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

The change of course - just five days after Zinke announced the offshore drilling plan - highlights the political importance of Florida, where President Donald Trump narrowly won the state's 29 electoral votes in the 2016 election and has encouraged Scott to run for Senate. "As a result of discussion with Governor (Rick) Scott and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms".

Interior secretary Ryan Zinke announced the move on Twitter, saying: "I support the governor's position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver". "This is a political stunt orchestrated by the Trump administration to help Rick Scott who has wanted to drill off Florida's coast his entire career".

The Trump administration says it won't allow offshore drilling in Florida waters.

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Zinke said last week that the drilling plan called for responsible development that would boost jobs and economic security while providing billions of dollars to fund conservation along U.S. coastlines.

Other Republican governors also oppose the plan, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker.

Zinke said last week that the department's draft National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019 to 2024 would make over 90 percent of the outer continental shelf's total acreage available for leasing to drillers, a national record. If that's your standard, we, too, should be removed from your list.

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The state is also important economically, with a multibillion-dollar tourism business built on sunshine and miles and miles of white sandy beaches. "I don't believe it", Nelson said in a statement.

Joining the chorus of Democratic critics was the advocacy group "Awake the State", which held a news conference in Tallahassee immediately following Scott's speech and also held media events across the state. "We shouldn't be playing politics with the future of Florida".

Zinke traveled to Florida to meet with Scott, Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift said. The draft proposal continues the current approach to lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico by proposing 10 biannual lease sales in those areas of the Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico that are not subject to Congressional moratorium or otherwise unavailable, and two sales in the portions of the Eastern and Central Gulf of Mexico after the expiration of the Congressional moratorium in 2022. "His motivation is and has always been to advance the interests of his wealthy, well-connected cronies and donors at the expense of Floridians who actually work for a living", Bergstein asserted.

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