clear
Thursday January 18th, 2018 8:49PM

Dems say Trump action on Florida drilling guided by politics

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Opposition to the Trump administration's plan to expand offshore drilling mounted Wednesday as Democrats from coastal states accused President Donald Trump of punishing states with Democratic leaders and a second Republican governor asked to withdraw his state from the plan.

Democrats said Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke were being hypocritical by agreeing to a request by Florida's Republican governor to withdraw from the drilling plan, but not making the same accommodation to states with Democratic governors.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California said on Twitter that his state, "like Florida, has hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline and a governor who wants to keep it that way. Or is that not enough for blue states?"

"If local voices matter why haven't they excluded Virginia?" asked Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. "Is it because the governor of Florida is a Republican and the Virginia governor is a Democrat?"

The complaints came as South Carolina's Republican governor said Wednesday he is seeking an exemption from the proposed drilling expansion, a move that will test the relationship between Trump and one of his earliest supporters.

Gov. Henry McMaster told reporters that risks associated with drilling pose a serious threat to South Carolina's lush coastline and $20 billion tourism industry.

"We cannot afford to take a chance with the beauty, the majesty and the economic value and vitality of our wonderful coastline in South Carolina," McMaster said.

Opposition to drilling is bipartisan within South Carolina's congressional delegation: All three House members who represent the state's 190 miles of coastline told The Associated Press they are against the expansion plan. Two of the three are Republicans, including Rep. Mark Sanford, a former governor who said Zinke had set a precedent by honoring Florida's request for an exemption.

"What's good for the goose is good for the gander," Sanford said, adding that Republicans should respect local wishes.

In Virginia, GOP Rep. Scott Taylor joined Kaine and Gov.-elect Ralph Northam in opposing the drilling plan. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called Trump's plan "a complete non-starter."

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said on Twitter that "the only science @SecretaryZinke follows is political science. He'll reverse course to protect fellow Republicans in Florida, but not to protect coastlines and jobs across the rest of the country? Totally unacceptable."

Heather Swift, a spokeswoman for Zinke, accused Kaine and other Democrats of taking cheap shots at her boss.

"The secretary has said since day one that he is interested in the local voice. If those governors would like to request meetings with the secretary, they are absolutely welcome to do so," she said. "Their criticism is empty pandering."

As of Wednesday, only McMaster and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina had requested a meeting with Zinke on offshore drilling, Swift said.

In Oregon, Democratic Gov. Kate Brown took to Twitter to ask Zinke for relief. Linking to Zinke tweet about Florida, Brown wrote: "Hey @secretaryzinke, how about doing the same for #Oregon?"

Zinke said after a brief meeting with Scott at the Tallahassee airport Tuesday that drilling in Florida waters would be "off the table," despite a plan that proposed drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean off Florida.

The change of course — just five days after Zinke announced the offshore drilling plan — highlights the political importance of Florida, where Trump narrowly won the state's 29 electoral votes in the 2016 election and has encouraged Scott to run for Senate.

The state is also important economically, with a multibillion-dollar tourism business built on sunshine and miles of white sandy beaches.

And Florida is where Trump has a winter home in Palm Beach. Trump spent his Christmas and New Year's break at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Former White House ethics chief Walter Shaub said Zinke's decision to exempt Florida from the drilling plan appears to be a conflict of interest for Trump.

Trump is "exempting the state that is home to the festering cankerous conflict of interest that the administration likes to call the 'Winter White House' and none of the other affected states," Shaub tweeted.

Zinke said Tuesday that "Florida is obviously unique" and that the decision to remove the state came after meetings and discussion with Scott, a Trump ally and a likely candidate for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Bill Nelson.

Nelson called Scott's meeting with Zinke "a political stunt" and said Scott has long wanted to drill off Florida's coast, despite his recent opposition.

Scott's office said he repeatedly voiced his opposition to drilling to Zinke, including at an October meeting in Washington.

"Senator Nelson and anyone else who opposes oil drilling off Florida's coast should be happy the governor was able to secure this commitment. This isn't about politics. This is good policy for Florida," said John Tupps, a Scott spokesman.

Zinke announced plans last week to greatly expand offshore oil drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic and Pacific oceans, including multiple areas where drilling is now blocked. The plan was immediately met with bipartisan opposition on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Democratic governors along both coasts unanimously oppose drilling, as do a number of Republican governors, including McMaster, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker.

The five-year plan announced by Zinke would open 90 percent of the nation's offshore reserves to development by private companies.

Industry groups praised the announcement, while environmental groups denounced the plan, saying it would impose "severe and unacceptable harm" to America's oceans, coastal economies, public health and marine life.

___

Associated Press writers Meg Kinnard in Columbia, S.C., Ben Finley in Norfolk, Va., and Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Business, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Trump says he's getting raves on immigration
President Donald Trump says he is getting rave reviews for a White House meeting on immigration
1:18PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Dems say Trump action on Florida drilling guided by politics
Democrats from coastal states are accusing the Trump administration of punishing states with Democratic leaders after the administration said it would block oil drilling off Florida's coast following objections from that state's Republican governor
1:13PM ( 17 minutes ago )
AP sources: Trump to extend sanctions relief for Iran
President Donald Trump is expected this week to once again renew Iran nuclear sanctions relief, citing progress in amending U.S. legislation that governs Washington's participation in the landmark 2015 nuclear accord.
1:05PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
APNewsBreak: Experts to study prison health care after riot
Delaware officials are hiring independent experts to review inmate access to health care and the prisoner grievance system in the wake of a deadly inmate riot and hostage taking last year at the state's maximum-security prison
12:50PM ( 39 minutes ago )
Death threats cause lockdown after teacher handcuffed
A Louisiana school board's office went on temporary lockdown after getting death threats from around the world in response to widely viewed video of a teacher screaming while being handcuffed at a school board meeting
12:35PM ( 54 minutes ago )
Dog meet dog: American Kennel Club adds 2 breeds to roster
A spirited Dutch duck-luring dog and a friendly French rabbit hound are now running with the American Kennel Club's pack
12:34PM ( 55 minutes ago )
AP National News
Trump says administration taking look at current libel laws
President Donald Trump says his administration is taking a look at the nation's libel laws
12:34PM ( 56 minutes ago )
Supreme Court could uphold Ohio voter purge effort
The Supreme Court appears sympathetic to states that seek to prune their voting rolls by targeting people who haven't voted in a while
12:04PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Dem leader seeks immigration, budget deal link
The Senate's top Democrat says a bipartisan immigration deal that negotiators are seeking must be attached to must-pass budget legislation Congress will soon consider
11:08AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Buffett adds his 2 potential successors to Berkshire board
Berkshire Hathaway is promoting the two top candidates to eventually replace CEO Warren Buffett to its board, but the 87-year-old investor says he isn't leaving
12:25PM ( 1 hour ago )
Iowa coach Ferentz faces an unusual rival: his neighbors
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz is preparing to battle an unlikely off-season opponent: his next-door neighbors
12:07PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: NYC sues oil companies over climate change
New York City is suing five major oil companies, claiming they have contributed to global warming
11:57AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Britain presses Germany for Brexit financial services deal
Britain's Brexit minister and Treasury chief say there's no sense in Germany setting up "unnecessary barriers" to trade in goods and services after Britain leaves the European Union
9:30AM ( 3 hours ago )
Britain presses Germany for EU financial services deal
Britain's Brexit minister and Treasury chief say there's no sense in Germany setting up "unnecessary barriers" to trade in goods and services after Britain leaves the European Union
9:04AM ( 4 hours ago )
Iran firm says there may be survivors from tanker crash
Iranian company whose oil tanker burst into flames after collision in East China Sea says there's still hope
1:04AM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Singapore arrests 17 suspected in Shell oil heist
Singapore police arrest 17 men, seize tanker, $2.3 million linked to theft of oil from Shell refinery
2:27AM ( 1 day ago )
Energy agency rejects Trump bid to boost coal, nuclear power
An independent energy agency has rejected a bid by the Trump administration to bolster coal-fired and nuclear power plants
6:48PM ( 1 day ago )
New Oregon law says motorists can pump their gas _ sometimes
An Oregon law passed in 1951 banned drivers from pumping their own gas but now that's changing _ in some cases
3:50PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Utilities
AP sources: Trump to extend sanctions relief for Iran
President Donald Trump is expected this week to once again renew Iran nuclear sanctions relief, citing progress in amending U.S. legislation that governs Washington's participation in the landmark 2015 nuclear accord.
1:09PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Paul Haggis resigns as chair of Haiti charity he founded
'Crash' writer and director Paul Haggis has resigned as Chair of the Board of the charity he founded, Artists for Peace and Justice
1:03PM ( 27 minutes ago )
The Latest: $5,000 freezer makes ice _ out of alcohol
A $5,000 ice cube maker might seem wasteful, but instead of being made with water, ice cubes from this machine are made entirely out of vodka or whiskey.
1:03PM ( 27 minutes ago )
James Franco denies sexual misconduct allegations
The New York Times cancels public event with James Franco days after the Golden Globe winner was accused of sexual misconduct
12:52PM ( 38 minutes ago )
After 2-day halt, trains to snowbound Swiss town resume
A train packed with tourists left from a snowbound resort town near Switzerland's famed Matterhorn peak, marking the resumption of railway service that was halted for two days because of avalanche risks and stranded thousands of visitors
12:52PM ( 38 minutes ago )