Zinke: I will 'talk to every governor' affected by offshore drilling plan

Zinke: I will 'talk to every governor' affected by offshore drilling plan
© Greg Nash

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkePress: Acosta, latest to walk the plank Senior Trump administration official to leave post next week 2020 Democrats vow to get tough on lobbyists MORE pledged Wednesday to meet with every governor affected by the Trump administration's move to expand offshore drilling rights off nearly all of the nation's outer continental shelf.

In an interview published Wednesday by The Washington Post, the secretary said he will meet with any governor affected by the proposed change following his announcement Tuesday that Florida would be exempt from the proposal.

That announcement came after a meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R).


“Quite frankly, Gov. Scott called me and he [also] expressed in writing a desire to have a meeting,” Zinke said, describing his meeting with Scott as the first “in what I believe will be a series of conversations” with other governors and lawmakers.


Zinke's decision was met with responses from other governors, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who asked the secretary in a tweet where his state could sign up for a waiver.

“New York doesn't want drilling off our coast either,” Cuomo tweeted. “Where do we sign up for a waiver @SecretaryZinke?”

So far, lawmakers from Maine, California, Virginia, New York and New Jersey have all requested their states be made exempt from the proposal. Florida was made exempt after Zinke recognized "the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver," according to a tweet.

Zinke on Wednesday added that he would likely talk to "every governor" affected by the proposal, but didn't say how many exemptions the Trump administration would issue.

“I will no doubt talk to every governor. It doesn’t matter to me whether you’re Republican or Democrat. This is going to be a long process. This is going to be at least a year with public comment. We have to get it right, look at the geology, look at the science," he said.

The decision to exempt Florida from the decision was quickly blasted by the oil industry, which issued a statement condemning Zinke's move to protect Florida's coasts.

“The Gulf of Mexico is the backbone of our nation’s offshore energy production and restricting access to the Eastern Gulf puts hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk across the country and along the Gulf Coast, particularly in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi,” said an American Petroleum Institute spokesman on Wednesday.