Senator: Drilling plan carve-out for Florida may be illegal

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The announcement prompted stiff opposition from governors from both parties on the coasts.

The Republican governor is close friends with President Trump, so it was rare to see Scott criticize the administration's drilling expansion plans. The Senate group, led by Democratic Sens.

"No federal leases have been granted off the California coast since 1984", KPCC writes, and new state leases have been banned for decades.

California's coastal recreation and tourism industry by some measures exceeds that of Florida - generating $16.55 billion in GDP in 2011, to Florida's $9.5 billion - yet Zinke has yet to announce a similar meeting with Gov. "With our environment so closely tied to the vitality of Maine's economy, we cannot risk the health of our ocean on a shortsighted proposal that could impact ME people for generations". The request follows Secretary Zinke's announcement that Florida will be exempted from the plan. Fla., said in a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) joined with her independent colleague in sending a letter to Zinke opposing "any effort to open waters off the coast of Maine or any proximate area to offshore drilling" citing the excessive risk to Maine's fisheries and the $1.7 billion lobster industry in particular. The exemption, said environmental lawyers, weakened the legal authority of the drilling plan, and prompted new voices of opposition.

According to King and Collins, the Department of the Interior will hold a public meeting to solicit feedback from local stakeholders at the Augusta Civic Center at 3 p.m. on January 22. Several governors, including leaders of Washington state, Delaware, Rhode Island and Maryland, asked for their states to be withdrawn from the plan and requested meetings with Zinke.

"I will no doubt talk to every governor", he said.

"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".

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat in a state that went to Trump in the 2016 race, said he wanted to meet with the president himself to explain how offshore drilling would threaten the state economy. Linking to Zinke tweet about Florida, Brown wrote: "Hey @secretaryzinke, how about doing the same for #Oregon?" Oceana found that 15 of the 23 coastal state governors voiced opposition.

Last week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a plan to open drilling in almost all coastal US waters to help create a "new path for energy dominance in America", reversing an Obama-era ban on the practice.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California said on Twitter that his state, "like Florida, has hundreds of miles of handsome coastline and a governor who wants to keep it that way".

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster - a vocal Trump supporter - told reporters in South Carolina on Wednesday that he opposes Trump's offshore drilling plan and will take "appropriate steps" to counter it, according to video provided to CNN.

"They have a long process ahead where they can try to cure this legal violation, but anything they do will be highly suspect", said Niel Lawrence, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Rick Scott voiced opposition soon after the plan's January 4 release, a letter submitted by the state Department of Environmental Protection previous year did not oppose the drilling plan or ask for Florida to be exempted.

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