Trump administration bars oil drilling off Florida after governor's plea

It's easy to see why swing state Florida got an offshore drilling exemption

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said he spoke Friday with Zinke and reiterated his opposition to the offshore oil drilling proposal. Now many are wondering why just Florida was given a pass.

The request comes two days after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke granted an exemption to the state of Florida after a meeting with Gov. Rick Scott.

"This political decision to open the magnificent and lovely Pacific Coast waters to oil and gas drilling flies in the face of decades of strong opposition on the part of Washington, Oregon and California - from Republicans and Democrats alike", they said in a joint statement. "I look forward to the many benefits Louisiana and other coastal states will see from this all-of-the-above energy strategy". Mounting uncertainties over the timeline and legislation could deter oil companies from planning to spend big on exploration, while drilling along the coastal areas could be challenged by states and could increase risks for oil firms' budget planning and possible legal expenses. In addition to Florida, the states of Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Connecticut, California, Oregon, and Washington have all opposed new leases off their coasts.

Like Florida, California and other coastal states "rely on our handsome coasts for tourism and our economy", Lieu said, adding that he believes courts will strike down the drilling plan.

If the proposed plan is approved, it will be in effect from 2019 to 2024, and will replace the current program, which was set to run through 2022. "Secretary Zinke did not provide that commitment, unfortunately". "It smacks of an impulsive, undisciplined, arbitrary process", he added. "We shouldn't be playing politics with the future of FL".

A spokesman for Brown told The Associated Press that Zinke is now deliberating on the request after Brown initiated a phone call with the secretary on Friday.

More news: Florida man claims $US451 million jackpot

As China works on their renewable energy production, the government in the United States is picking and choosing which states will be tapped for oil and fossil fuels.

According to Matt Lee-Ashley, a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress and former deputy chief of staff in Obama's Interior Department, Zinke's Twitter announcement that Florida will be exempt undermines the process of the drafting of the final drilling plan.

The final program for lease sales is years away. The five-year plan would open 90 percent of the nation's offshore reserves to development by private companies.

With states and environmentalists expected to strongly oppose and even sue, the timeline for the final program approval could be further pushed off, and it's possible that there will be no lease sales-let alone drilling-in the next few years.

The administration's decision on Tuesday removes from consideration a portion of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, an area that oil drillers have said they are interested in exploring - but not all of it.

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