Why did Trump grant only one governor's wish on drilling?

Only days into the official comment period on the Trump administration's plan to open nearly all US waters to offshor...

Posted: Jan 10, 2018 9:25 PM
Updated: Jan 10, 2018 9:25 PM

Only days into the official comment period on the Trump administration's plan to open nearly all US waters to offshore drilling, the administration has exposed this plan for exactly what it is -- playing politics with our coast.

When Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced he was removing Florida from the plan after meeting with the governor for a matter of minutes, it was clear this has nothing to do with listening to local and state voices, the economic interest of the coast or science. If it did, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia would not be a part of this plan. Why else but politics would President Donald Trump, via Zinke, hand such an obvious victory to Florida's governor, Rick Scott, who has bigger political ambitions? The White House has made it clear in other ways - including with public praise from the President -- that Scott is a priority for them.

Just two years ago, facing pressure from communities, businesses and associations, and political leaders across the South and the political spectrum, the Obama administration scrapped a controversial plan to open the Southeast Atlantic coast to industrial oil and gas development for the first time. Now, despite this tidal wave of opposition, the Trump administration is turning its back on coastal communities and moving forward with a new attempt to force offshore drilling into a region that doesn't want it.

On its face, tweeting that the administration is removing one state from the plan discredits the thorough, considered process that is required by the federal government to make a major decision such as instilling oil operations off the coast of certain states. Not to mention administrative law requirements that protect against "arbitrary and capricious" actions. Zinke's late-night tweet, especially since he's leaving other states that have opposed offshore drilling in the plan, certainly seems arbitrary.

Of all the waters in this plan, the ones in the Southeast are perhaps most in the crosshairs -- and the people who live along the coast know that development in the Atlantic is fundamentally a threat to all that is special about the places they call home. The industrialization and infrastructure associated with drilling - the rigs, refineries, pipelines and traffic -- is not merely a nuisance; it would wreck our environment, economy, and quality of life.

A catastrophic spill like what we saw in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 could happen off our shores and devastate the healthy waters and clean beaches that are critical to the tourism and fishing industries that boost our economy. And oil spills don't care where one state ends and another begins, so Florida remains at risk even if rigs won't be directly off its shores. Even in the best-case scenario, routine spills and accidents occur regularly with any offshore drilling, and it's simply not worth the risk for our communities, our environment and most of all our economy.

The fishing and tourism industries are the backbone of our coastal economy. Zinke cited Florida's tourism economy as one of the reasons it was removed, but that holds true for the entire Atlantic Coast. In 2012, there were nearly 250,000 ocean-related jobs in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, contributing $14.6 billion to the economies in the region and more than $7.5 billion in wages in the same year. The tourism and recreation sector alone supported more than 170,000 jobs and contributed more than $6 billion to the regional economy, while the commercial fishing industry contributed nearly $1 billion to the region.

All this could be at risk. And so, under the last administration, the Southeast rejected any plan to open the Atlantic to oil and gas development. That should have been the end of it.

Instead, the Trump administration is willfully ignoring this opposition and the formal requests of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to keep drilling away from their shores, along with opposition from countless other elected officials across the region (including during the Obama administration) and on both sides of the aisle, including Republican Govs. Henry McMaster of South Carolina of and Larry Hogan of Maryland.

And despite proclamations about wanting to hear from coastal residents as they finalize a decision, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management apparently does not plan to hold hearings in most of the very coastal communities that would be most impacted, as they have done in the past even though they have promised to conduct an open and public process.

Worse still, the administration is proposing this at the same time they are pushing to roll back the offshore drilling safety rules that were put in place in the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico disaster. The decision is simply stunning.

Yet this approach to energy policy -- massive giveaways to fossil-fuel giants, politicians and lobbyists at the expense of the public -- is becoming typical for this administration. It is the common thread that defines new initiatives but risks our safety. It is the reason the Southeast is once again being forced to fight to protect its shores.

Fortunately, this is not the end of the story. Coastal communities are prepared to fight even harder to save the Atlantic Ocean and our beloved beaches from this risky and controversial proposal just as we did before. And community leaders and business owners are gathering together, united once more. And we will be ready to take legal action to protect the coast if necessary.

It's time the Trump administration take seriously its responsibilities and begin to listen, not make decisions on the future of the coast based on political favors.

Huntsville
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 73°
Florence
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 76°
Fayetteville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 72°
Decatur
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 71°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 72°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6219167
Mobile4625138
Montgomery4397111
Tuscaloosa258652
Madison19839
Marshall190411
Shelby155724
Lee153537
Morgan12415
Baldwin117011
Walker105631
Elmore100721
Dallas9789
Franklin92816
Etowah91914
DeKalb8647
Russell6650
Chambers66427
Autauga66214
Butler64529
Tallapoosa62569
Unassigned61627
Limestone5963
Houston5616
Lauderdale5556
Cullman5546
St. Clair4842
Colbert4816
Lowndes48022
Escambia4688
Pike4675
Calhoun4565
Coffee4164
Covington40312
Jackson4022
Barbour3772
Bullock37610
Dale3721
Talladega3677
Hale34323
Marengo34211
Clarke3036
Wilcox2998
Chilton2952
Winston2925
Sumter28713
Blount2811
Marion26714
Pickens2626
Monroe2553
Randolph2489
Conecuh2278
Perry2242
Bibb2151
Macon2129
Choctaw20912
Greene1929
Henry1463
Washington1367
Crenshaw1263
Lawrence1210
Cherokee1157
Geneva950
Lamar871
Clay822
Fayette811
Coosa631
Cleburne421
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 59546

Reported Deaths: 723
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby13113219
Davidson12935142
Rutherford342839
Hamilton319637
Sumner187456
Williamson167016
Knox15069
Trousdale15065
Out of TN139710
Wilson113017
Putnam10027
Unassigned9362
Bradley9254
Robertson90113
Sevier8843
Montgomery7127
Lake6960
Tipton6926
Bledsoe6271
Bedford5989
Macon5686
Hamblen4474
Maury4313
Hardeman4004
Fayette3573
Madison3472
Loudon3201
Blount3063
Rhea3030
Dyer2803
McMinn27018
Cheatham2643
Dickson2510
Washington2350
Lawrence2276
Cumberland2004
Anderson1892
Sullivan1892
Lauderdale1754
Gibson1661
Jefferson1641
Monroe1526
Smith1482
Greene1382
Coffee1370
Cocke1300
Hardin1257
Warren1200
Obion1182
Haywood1132
Franklin1103
Wayne1100
Marshall1082
Hickman1010
McNairy1001
Marion914
Giles891
Carter871
Lincoln840
Hawkins832
DeKalb820
White813
Roane800
Overton701
Weakley691
Claiborne680
Campbell671
Grundy652
Henderson650
Chester590
Unicoi560
Grainger550
Polk550
Carroll521
Henry500
Crockett493
Cannon460
Jackson460
Johnson450
Sequatchie450
Humphreys392
Meigs370
Perry370
Morgan301
Decatur280
Fentress270
Stewart270
Scott260
Union220
Houston200
Clay180
Moore170
Benton151
Hancock110
Lewis100
Van Buren90
Pickett70

 

 

Community Events