INTERIOR/OIL/RYAN ZINKE: “Trump administration officials are looking to rally support among members of Congress and state-level officials for a plan to expand offshore drilling in waters along the U.S. coast. Some of their toughest customers will be in their own party.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, leading a sales pitch expected to last at least 18 months, is set to meet Tuesday [1-9-18] with Republican Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, who said he was opposed to the drilling soon after the administration announced the plan last Thursday.
The administration is proposing to expand drilling to every coastal state, making it vulnerable to a number of court challenges from governors if the administration proceeds without winning over opponents. Members of Congress could also block the administration’s plan through legislation or spending bills.
In addition to Democratic governors in California, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington who have vowed to fight the plan, congressional Republicans from Florida, New Jersey and South Carolina have said they are opposed to it.
The proposal won support from lawmakers in states like Louisiana and Alaska where oil is key to their economy…
The Interior Department pointed to letters it received last year in which 155 members of Congress, including 36 Republican senators, supported reconsidering offshore areas that had been blocked from drilling. A spokesman for one who signed, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, said Monday that the letter from a few months ago shouldn’t be considered an endorsement of Interior’s new proposal. He is still evaluating it.
Florida is likely to be at the center of the debate, in part because it has the most at stake: Oil companies consider the waters off the state the most logical and prized options for new drilling, and the state has a tourism industry that has been the state’s top priority for decades.”
-Timothy Puko, “Trump’s Offshore-Drilling Plan Faces Choppy Political Waters,” The Wall Street Journal online, Jan. 9, 2018 11:41am