Speed Reads

Things that make you go hmmmm

Ryan Zinke says Florida is exempt from his offshore drilling expansion. Other coastal states have questions.

Last week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced he is opening 90 percent of the nation's oil and gas offshore reserves to development, but on Tuesday he said he had taken Florida "off the table," both its Gulf and Atlantic coasts. "Florida is obviously unique," he said after a brief meeting with Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who is expected to run for Senate this year. He explained in a statement that Florida's "coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver."

"The president made it very clear that local voices count," Zinke told reporters Tuesday night. Local voices wanted to know why Florida got a special pass, including several governors of coastal states:

The attorneys general of California and Maryland noted pointedly that their coasts are also economically important national treasures, and Virginia's junior senator weighed in:

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), a longtime critic of offshore drilling who Scott would run against, called Zinke's announcement "a political stunt orchestrated by the Trump administration to help Rick Scott." It's not just Democrats, though; several Republican governors also asked to be exempted from Zinke's drilling expansion — and Scott wasn't one of them, according to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

Florida is politically important, but it's also home to President Trump's favorite coastal escape, the "festering cancerous conflict of interest" Mar-a-Lago, former federal ethics chief Walter Shaub noted in all-caps, advising Zinke, "Go look up 'banana republic.'"