Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

'We are outraged': Gov. Brown blasts oil drilling proposal in CNN interview

'We are outraged': Gov. Brown blasts oil drilling proposal in CNN interview

Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, included himself in the opposition and said he'd seek an immediate meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to discuss his concerns.

The 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program released by the Bureau of Energy Management (BOEM) outlines 47 individual lease tracts along the outer-continental shelf spanning the entire US coastline.

State Rep. Al Williams, a Democrat from the hamlet of Midway on Georgia's seashore, called the White House plan "a awful idea that could have profound negative effects on Georgia's coast". "The president made it very clear that local voices count".

Just two years ago, facing pressure from communities, businesses and associations, and political leaders across the South and the political spectrum, the Obama administration scrapped a controversial plan to open the Southeast Atlantic coast to industrial oil and gas development for the first time. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted, New York doesn't want drilling off our coast either.

Florida Governor Rick Scott - a Republican - is against oil and gas exploration off his state's coast, and is planning a run for U.S. Senate.

The governors of Delaware, North Carolina, and SC on Tuesday were seeking meetings with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to press their case that drilling would pose significant risks to coastal tourism, while other state representatives issued sharply-worded Tweets. The plan, which calls for 19 lease sales off Alaska, risks disaster for oceans and climate. If we know the potential for spills could hurt Florida's economy, why isn't this a consideration for other coastal areas?

GOP Rep. Mark Sanford, whose [districts] include parts of coastal SC including Charleston, also derided the Florida exemption in an interview with CNN. In it, he noted the threats offshore drilling pose to Virginia's major economic drivers including tourism, fishing, aquaculture, and our military installations.

The state is also important economically, with a multibillion-dollar tourism business built on sunshine and miles of white sandy beaches. Zinke cited Florida's tourism economy as one of the reasons it was removed, but that holds true for the entire Atlantic Coast. "All of these contribute to a robust national economy".

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All this could be at risk.

Inslee and his office wrote to the Trump administration in August and again last week, and both called and sent a letter to Zinke Thursday, he told CNN, but he has not gotten any response.

Nowhere is the Trump administration's historic assault on our natural environment more worrisome than his reckless push for increased offshore oil and gas drilling.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, said he supports an "expansive energy independence policy" but that Trump's proposed policy change has "left me with some questions".

In response, the Interior department is now reviewing offshore drilling safety regulations put in place by the Obama administration after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, including blowout preventer and well control requirements (well design, control, casing, cementing, monitoring, and subsea containment), safety and environmental management systems, and emergency blowout response plans. The decision is simply stunning.

But Scott has rarely met a fossil fuel he did not like.

Fortunately, this is not the end of the story. And we will be ready to take legal action to protect the coast if necessary.

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