Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said the meeting with Zinke was "a political stunt orchestrated by the Trump administration to help Rick Scott", who Nelson said has long wanted to drill off Florida's coast.
Just like Florida, our states are unique with vibrant coastal economies.
But taking Florida off the table sparked even more backlash from almost all other coastal states along the Pacific and the Atlantic, with governors and representatives demanding the states they represent be exempt, too.
"This political decision to open the magnificent and attractive Pacific Coast waters to oil and gas drilling flies in the face of decades of strong opposition on the part of Washington, Oregon and California - from Republicans and Democrats alike", they said in a joint statement.
Potential lawsuits could further derail the timeline of the process that would turn this initial draft plan into a proposed final program.
The backlash could complicate President Donald Trump's efforts to expand oil and gas production offshore.
The administration was well aware that not all the areas being opened the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) will be areas in which drilling will take place.
"Suddenly excluding certain states from future consideration, while Washington state has always been united in opposition to oil and gas production off our coast is arbitrary, shortsighted and inconsistent with the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act", said Cantwell, the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Alaska and ME are the only two USA states whose governors have expressed support for the plan.More news: International Business Machines Corporation (IBM)
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Nelson said that, with the offshore draft lease plan up for public comment, but changing, it was unclear exactly what Zinke's department meant to do offshore.
In a letter sent to Secretary Zinke on Thursday, U.S. Senator Kamala.
Shortly after the announcement, a bipartisan group of governors from states such as New York, Oregon and SC all asked publicly for their own special exceptions.
"This is about playing politics with our coast", Sierra Weaver, Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), said.
"Regarding the offshore drilling ban, Gov".
In addition to Harris, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
The five-year plan would open 90 percent of the nation's offshore reserves to development by private companies, Zinke said, with 47 leases proposed off the nation's coastlines from 2019 to 2024.
This sparks an even deeper environmental debate on the safety of offshore drilling.