Like Florida, Virginia seeks offshore drilling exemption

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke steps from Air Force One as U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City

The bureau also is proposing or has granted more than a dozen other wind-power leases and projects from ME to North Carolina. The administration has surrendered any reason to refuse.

Gov. Jay Inslee is asking U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to remove Washington, along with the entire Pacific coastline, from a list of proposed sites for potential offshore oil and gas drilling.

Members of Congress from both parties and both coasts have intensified their opposition to the Trump administration's plan to open nearly all of America's outer continental shelf to energy exploration.

ALLEN: For conspiracy theorists, the fact that Scott had lunch with Trump at Mar-a-Lago just days before the offshore drilling plan was announced just thickens the plot.

Zinke added that he supports Scott's position that "Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver".

"Securing reliable sources of energy helps fuel other industries like tourism, especially in states like Florida that relies on more than 200 million barrels of gasoline and diesel each year to fuel its economy".

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.

Environmental lawyers say that exempting Florida from any new offshore drilling weakens the legal foundation of the proposal because it could appear to be "arbitrary and capricious".

And Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor of North Carolina, responded to a Zinke tweet: "Is this thing on?"

"We can not 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.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: When the Trump administration unveiled a plan to greatly expand offshore drilling, in Florida the response was quick. Why should Scott's be the only one heeded? Scott, who is finishing his second term as Florida governor, is expected to announce soon he's entering the race for the U.S. Senate, running against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.

This proposal, which lifts a ban on offshore drilling in the United States placed by President Barack Obama near the end of his term as well as opens up leasing off the California coast for the first time since 1969, faces an uphill battle before it would result in actual leasing. Trump handed him a political prize. "I am encouraged by the decision to exempt Florida from the plan, and respectfully ask that the same exemption be made for the Commonwealth of Virginia".

These matters usually require years of study, taking into consideration the likely size and location of oil and gas deposits, ocean depth, currents, weather conditions, frequency of major storms and other factors. "If those governors would like to request meetings with the secretary, they are absolutely welcome to do so", she said.

In this case, however, Zinke made the critical concession that coastal areas, and the communities that depend on them for their economic lifeblood, can be harmed by offshore oil operations. The cost-benefit ratio calculation has been pushed away from drilling. The Trump-owned private club is on the Atlantic in Palm Beach with its own white sand beach. When asked if the exemption for Florida was a political favor for Scott, Sanford said "it certainly looks, smells, and feels that way".

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