Zinke: “no new oil and gas platforms off the coast of Florida”

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on oil drilling off Florida
Ryan Zinke. C-SPAN screen grab. 10 May 2018.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said again Thursday that there will be no new oil and gas platforms off the state of Florida; his position on drilling off the coasts of Florida has been confusing this year.

He was challenged Thursday in a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing by Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen regarding draft regulations Zinke’s department set up this year to open the Atlantic Coast to drilling.

“Yes. I’m committed to remain that there are no new oil and gas platforms off the coast of Florida. They are still in the process legally. But I’m committed to that,” Zinke told Van Hollen. “If I would have left Florida off [the new regulations], it would have been arbitrary and capricious. So I put Florida on.”

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Hands Across the Sand opposition to drilling and fracking
Florida residents hold Hands Across the Sand on Treasure Island Beach to oppose oil and gas drilling. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (May 2013).

“Florida has a moratorium in place,” Zinke said.

“Mr. Secretary, you know that moratorium is not on the Atlantic Coast. You know that moratorium is in place on the Gulf Coast,” Van Hollen responded.

“The president has insured that we take the local community in consideration and the views of this body, the Representatives,” Zinke said. “I think you’re going to be very happy with our planning process as we go through. We should release the first draft in the fall.”

“I just hope we could, sort of, put this on a hyper-speed like you did in Florida. You have to admit it, it looked very political, right? Meeting with the Governor [Rick Scott], making that public announcement by tweet. I just hope that Maryland and other states that meet those criteria get the same consideration,” Van Hollen concluded.

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