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DOI Backtracks and Withdraws Florida Coast from Offshore Leasing Plan

In response to stiff opposition, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced Tuesday that it would not include Florida’s coast in the five-year offshore leasing plan as originally proposed last week.  Republican Gov. Rick Scott, with a bipartisan support including nongovernmental organizations, opposed the plan to potentially allow drilling off of Florida’s coast.  Gov. Scott subsequently met with Secretary Zinke to address the concerns associated with drilling off Florida’s cost.

The significant bi-partisan opposition seems to have softened Sec. Zinke’s position.  He recognized Florida’s dependence on tourism and was quick to explain that the draft program is likely to be revised over the next several months as public comments are received.  That doesn’t seem to have commensurately softened the stance taken by Democratic Governors (Gov. Jerry Brown – CA, Gov. Kate Brown – OR, or  Gov. Jay Inslee – WA) in their position that the DOI’s actions are “reckless, [and] short-sighted” and who were quick to point out that federal drilling has been off limits along the Pacific coast for more than 30 years.  The last lease sale there occurred in 1984.