At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing today, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, admitted “Florida is still in the process,” when asked about the agency’s five-year offshore drilling program, contradicting his announcement earlier this year that Florida was “off the table” for offshore drilling.
In response to the latest from Zinke, Sen. Bill Nelson said, “The Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, in front of the Senate Energy Committee today, has just said very confusingly – but bottom line – Florida is still on the table for drilling off of the coast of Florida. This is exactly the opposite of what the people of Florida want.”
Asked by Sen. Angus King (I-ME) to explain his decision to take Florida off the table, Zinke listed several reasons but, further confusing the issue, he assured the committee, “… but, Florida is still in the process.”
Zinke’s statement today, once again, confirms what Florida lawmakers, including Sen. Nelson, have been saying since January – the announcement Zinke made following a brief meeting with Gov. Scott was a “political stunt,” not an official announcement of policy.
Following Zinke’s announcement in January, Nelson sent the secretary a letter requesting specific details on any changes to the agency’s five-year plan. Two months later, Nelson has not yet received a response. Today’s comments beg more questions than answers, further confusing the Interior’s plans for offshore drilling off the coast of Florida.