After Florida, more states press U.S. for offshore drilling exemptions

It proposes to make more than 90 percent of the total OCS acreage available for exploration and development.

The Obama administration instituted temporary bans on drilling in both the Atlantic and the Arctic's Beaufort and Chukchi seas through 2022, thereby limiting offshore drilling to the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska's Cook Inlet.

The proposed program comprises 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 planning areas. South Carolina's Governor Henry McMaster, a Republican, has said he will also seek an exemption.

Zinke announced proudly that the program "proposes the largest number of lease sales in US history".

Creative Commons photo of platform off the coast of California.

President Randall Luthi issued the following statement on Secretary Zinke's recent announcement regarding Florida offshore waters.

Read my full statement on taking #Florida off the table for offshore oil and gas.

Remind us. Who was that first governor to endorse Trump's presidential campaign before he had sewn up the 2016 Republican nomination? Then, his March executive order: "Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth" ordered agencies to review (weaken or eliminate) existing energy regulations and policies "that potentially burden the production or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources". He added that "as far as the economy goes, clean, reliable, abundant and affordable energy is what's driving the economy".

Support for the new plan followed quickly from the International Association of Geophysical Contractors (IAGC), which represents seismic testing companies. "Is it because the governor of Florida is a Republican and the Virginia governor is a Democrat?" The congressional delegation from New Jersey also wrote to Zinke asking him to visit the state and reconsider including it in the plan to expand drilling.

So why not do the smart thing and rescind the proposal to open the federal waters to more drilling, and let the local non-oil economies chug along without fear of oil-covered birds, dead fisheries and tarry beaches?

"There is no truth to that at all", he asserted, "particularly not here on the Outer Banks".

Sierra Weaver, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center ― which led the charge to have Atlantic waters removed from the current five-year plan ― said Tuesday that state and local leaders in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia have also rejected offshore drilling.

Carolina Beach Mayor Joe Benson is one leader in our area who wants North Carolina to be exempt from drilling.

"I think it's a possibility that there's a way that it could be done that was judicious and made sense, but you've got to make sure the environment, the investment that Georgia has already made ... are protected".

We're not the only ones making that argument. We will fight for our coasts by fighting this plan.

"If Secretary Zinke has really turned over a new leaf and chose to listen to local voices, he should listen to the outpouring of opposition coming from communities, businesses, and elected officials from both parties up and down our coasts and promptly withdraw his radical offshore drilling plan", League of Conservation Voters Deputy Legislative Director Alex Taurel said in a statement. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, Kate Brown of Oregon, Jerry Brown of California, Jay Inslee of Washington, John Carney of DE and Roy Cooper of North Carolina.

  • Jon Douglas