Gov. Inslee demands Trump administration not drill off Washington coast

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The Trump administration last week proposed opening almost all US offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, a move aimed at boosting domestic energy production and which sparked protests from coastal states, environmentalists and the tourism industry. A proposed leasing plan unveiled last week aims to open up all USA coasts to drillers over the next five years.

Governors and other officials from several USA coastal states ramped up pressure on the Trump administration on Wednesday to exempt their waters from an offshore drilling plan, hours after the Interior Department granted Florida's request to opt out. "But now, suddenly, Secretary Zinke announces plans to drill off Florida's coast and four days later agrees to 'take Florida off the table?'" "There has been no drilling off the Pacific Coast for three decades".

"I support the governor's position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver", Zinke said in a statement. "Where do we sign up for a waiver?" wrote New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat.

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Before the Florida decision, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a call for any legal claims, actions or suits against the federal government to prevent drilling off the state's coast. Both met at the Tallahassee International Airport on Tuesday.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Governor-elect Ralph Northam today requested that Virginia be excluded from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's plans to expand offshore drilling off of all U.S. waters.

Zinke said the decision was a culmination of multiple meetings between Scott and Trump administration officials.

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"It seems incredibly hard to justify or explain that this is anything other than arbitrary or capricious", said Weaver.

"Offshore drilling holds the same risks for North Carolina as it does for Florida and North Carolina deserves the same exemption".

"Responsibly developing our energy resources on the Outer Continental Shelf in a safe and well-regulated way is important to our economy and energy security, and it provides billions of dollars to fund the conservation of our coastlines, public lands, and parks", Zinke said in the announcement. Democrats, including Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., a possible target of a Senate bid by the term-limited governor, said the concession smacked of political favor.

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The governors of California and Washington have also told Interior they strongly oppose any new leasing off their coasts and asked to be removed from the plan.

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