Walter Cruickshank, the director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said his agency still is conducting analyses on sites nationwide.
WASHINGTON — Interior Secretary’s statement last week that Florida was off the table as a candidate for offshore drilling has been called into question.
During a House Natural Resources Committee hearing Thursday morning, Walter Cruickshank, the director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, called Zinke’s statement “not a formal action.” He said his agency still is conducting analyses on sites nationwide.
“Until such time as all those analyses are complete and we have all those comments to put in the record and consider, we will not have any indication of where the secretary wants to go,” Cruickshank reportedly said.
Zinke on Jan. 9 spoke at the Tallahassee airport in a speech some politicians viewed as a Senate boost for Gov. Rick Scott.
“The great state of Florida has expressed and the governor has expressed his desire not to drill and not to have production platforms off the coast,” Zinke said. “We think we have the assets in this country onshore and offshore and the rest of the Gulf to meet the president’s desire for energy dominance.”
Also this week, a bipartisan group of governors along the Atlantic Coast asked the Trump administration to exempt their states from expanded offshore drilling.
Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan led the effort to send a joint letter to Zinke opposing the “leasing, exploration, development and production of oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean.”
“Like Florida, each of our states has unique natural resources and an economy that is reliant on tourism as an essential driver,” the joint letter reads. “We support the notion of energy diversity, but the environmental and economic importance of the Atlantic Ocean must be weighed against the potential unintended consequences of these types of activities.”
Along with Hogan, the letter is signed by Democratic Govs. Ralph Northam, Va., Dan Malloy, Conn., John Carney, Del., Roy Cooper, N.C., Gina Raimondo, R.I.; and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, Mass.
Hogan said during a Thursday news conference about redistricting that he is scheduled to participate in a conference call with Zinke on Monday to discuss offshore drilling and a proposal for Maryland to take ownership of the Baltimore-Washington Parkwayto widen the roadway.
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