The Trump administration proposed opening almost all U.S. offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, a move aimed at boosting domestic energy production that sparked protests from coastal states, environmentalists and the tourism industry.
Zinke's plan is considered the most ambitious offshore drilling proposal in decades, and is a effect of President Donald Trump's executive order in April encouraging more drilling rights in federal waters. Florida's Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, said he had already set up a meeting with Zinke "to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration".
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"Gambling with tourism, Florida's No. 1 industry, and risking the lives of our birds and wildlife are only a few of the risky risks of offshore drilling", she said in a statement. "Our country is at the forefront of developing efficient and cost effective alternative energy technologies and we should continue to support innovation in this area".
Apart from the governor of Florida, the plan to expand drilling along the coast has been opposed by the governors of New Jersey, Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina, Guardian reported. It would reverse President Barack Obama's decision to keep the Atlantic coast off limits through at least 2022.
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The plan was immediately met with backlash from the environmental community, and even some Republicans. The added supply would improve energy security for the USA, which is now experiencing an oil production boom as a result of hydraulic fracturing.
However, environmentalists expressed concerns over the ramifications of this move, as it will negate the environmental protection barriers put in place by the Obama administration. "We will produce enough energy to meet our needs at home, and we will export enough energy to lead the world", Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who is leading the proposal, said in a conference call with reporters. Some of those safety rules are headed for a rollback under a separate effort by the Trump administration. But Trump has now proposed opening up 90 percent of the nation's coastlines to drilling. "As such, I am opposed to any oil and gas leasing in federal waters offshore of DE, or elsewhere in the Atlantic". The governors overseeing Oregon, California and Washington - states that together span the entirety of America's West Coast - released a joint statement condemning a move they said "flies in the face of decades of strong opposition".
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The Trump administration must take public comments for 60 days on the administration's proposal, and officials must revise it accordingly.
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