Another Republican Governor Wants Out of Trump’s Offshore Drilling Insanity

by Pitt Griffin on January 13, 2018 · 0 comments

in Environment, Trump presidency

South Carolina’s Governor, Henry McMaster, has joined Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott, in asking Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, for an exemption from Zinke’s plan to open all waters to offshore drilling. It’s likely that the relatively unremarked rollback of EPA regulations gave Zinke confidence that his ‘drill everywhere’ initiative would be greeted with approval by Trump’s MAGA zealots and the Republicans in general.

He was wrong.

It’s one thing to sully the backyards of poor people forced to live near mines, factories, and other polluting industries. But offshore drilling threatens the well-being of the beachfront-house and yacht-owning classes. No doubt they made their feelings known to the state powers-that-be.

Zinke has already been granted Florida relief from his drilling edict. His reasoning? Florida is too reliant on tourism to risk oil washing up on the beach. However, any state that has a coastline relies on tourist dollars — except Alaska. Which explains why it is the lone coastal supporter of Zinke’s announcement.

McMaster summed up the feeling of coastal governors and ocean-front Representatives when he said:

“We cannot afford to take a chance with the beauty, the majesty and the economic value and vitality of our wonderful coastline in South Carolina,”

As long as Florida was the sole exception Zinke had some justification as Florida is third only to Nevada, and less obviously Wyoming, in reliance on tourism. And it is the number one coastal state. But if Zinke allows South Carolina to escape his drilling edict he would find it hard to justify keeping any other state obligated.

He may be willing to take his political chances, but I imagine his action will give California and all the other blue coastal states — and they are mostly blue — solid grounds for legal action. And what if Georgia follows suit?

North Carolina also presents Zinke with a problem. Like Florida, it is a state that voted for Trump but has also recently voted for a Democrat. It already has a Democratic Governor. It is being forced to redraw its race-based congregational districts. And Republicans can ill afford to lose the coastal vote.

I believe that Zinke thought the red states would welcome the economic boon — no matter how small or illusory — and who cared about the blue states. But he doesn’t seem to have asked the Republican Governors how they would feel about it. Showing yet again that the Trump administration is generally terrible at everything except looking incompetent, rushed and weak.

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