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Rubio places hold on number-two Interior nominee over offshore drilling

Rubio places hold on number-two Interior nominee over offshore drilling
© Greg Nash

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Rubio signals opposition to Biden Cabinet picks Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (R-Fla.) has placed a hold on Deputy Interior Secretary nominee Katharine MacGregor amid concerns over her support for expanded offshore oil drilling.

“When it comes to offshore drilling and exploration, the Florida delegation is united in opposition to allowing our shores to be subjected to new leases,” Nick Iacovella, a spokesman for Rubio’s office, told Reuters.

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Iacovella added that the hold will continue “until our office is able to discuss our concerns regarding offshore drilling with her directly.”

MacGregor, currently the department’s chief of staff, has played a role in developing the Interior Department’s future plans for oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf.

The Interior Department proposed opening more than 90 percent of coastal waters in the outer shelf to drilling last year.

However, amid widespread, bipartisan opposition to offshore drilling from members of congress representing coastal states, as well as a federal court blocking the administration’s efforts to reverse Obama-era bans on leasing the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told Reuters in November that there will be no drilling until the process is “further along.”

MacGregor has yet to be confirmed by the full Senate but the Senate Energy & Commerce Committee voted to advance her nomination last month.

The Hill has reached out to the Interior Department for comment.