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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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 455783

Reported Deaths: 6166
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin945441502
Ramsey40698749
Dakota33623354
Anoka31398368
Washington20579237
Stearns18111190
St. Louis14006251
Scott1221199
Wright11811107
Olmsted1083075
Sherburne831270
Carver705639
Clay660684
Rice624774
Kandiyohi558772
Blue Earth549533
Crow Wing490678
Otter Tail464968
Chisago460438
Benton423788
Winona394948
Douglas379766
Nobles374847
Mower374429
Goodhue358163
Polk330760
McLeod328647
Beltrami316148
Morrison314645
Lyon306139
Becker289439
Itasca287843
Isanti286143
Carlton284443
Steele279510
Pine270515
Freeborn254723
Todd233730
Nicollet230538
Brown218634
Mille Lacs215745
Le Sueur214416
Cass210824
Meeker201533
Waseca193316
Wabasha17483
Martin172026
Roseau166517
Hubbard151138
Redwood141327
Houston140314
Dodge13974
Renville138540
Chippewa133232
Cottonwood129118
Fillmore12778
Wadena120818
Rock112012
Aitkin111533
Faribault110116
Sibley11017
Watonwan10698
Pennington101016
Kanabec99818
Pipestone97223
Yellow Medicine95016
Murray9137
Jackson87310
Swift84718
Pope7485
Stevens7078
Marshall70415
Clearwater68814
Lake66415
Lac qui Parle66116
Wilkin63510
Koochiching60810
Lincoln4912
Big Stone4703
Unassigned43968
Grant4388
Norman4268
Mahnomen4167
Kittson37420
Red Lake3204
Traverse2623
Lake of the Woods1981
Cook1160

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 312194

Reported Deaths: 4433
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46975465
Linn18114279
Scott15900172
Black Hawk14123243
Woodbury13145181
Johnson1231752
Dubuque11651159
Pottawattamie9182115
Dallas910872
Story883538
Cerro Gordo474372
Webster473377
Warren461539
Sioux460457
Clinton459168
Marshall432262
Buena Vista397230
Muscatine396578
Des Moines395543
Plymouth353670
Wapello351798
Jasper333359
Lee326932
Marion310853
Jones275250
Henry269131
Carroll258934
Bremer250448
Crawford235824
Washington224133
Boone223517
Benton213950
Mahaska198637
Jackson195332
Tama190959
Dickinson189229
Kossuth180944
Delaware176536
Clay173021
Wright167624
Fayette166324
Hamilton162530
Buchanan162324
Winneshiek161020
Harrison158762
Hardin157831
Cedar155819
Clayton153949
Butler152324
Page148115
Floyd141936
Cherokee140327
Mills138517
Lyon137933
Poweshiek135424
Hancock132424
Allamakee131530
Iowa128022
Madison124210
Calhoun12379
Grundy122828
Jefferson122425
Winnebago122329
Mitchell117137
Louisa116430
Cass115343
Chickasaw113812
Appanoose113040
Sac112815
Union111723
Emmet111332
Humboldt107819
Shelby106427
Guthrie104624
Franklin103618
Unassigned10210
Palo Alto92611
Montgomery89224
Keokuk86426
Howard85919
Monroe82620
Clarke8199
Pocahontas78711
Ida76430
Davis70421
Adair69720
Greene6977
Monona68418
Lucas66910
Osceola65011
Worth6224
Taylor6009
Fremont5276
Van Buren50515
Decatur4994
Ringgold45511
Audubon4258
Wayne42021
Adams3023
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