In what can only be described as embarrassing, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke took a note from his boss in diplomacy when he unilaterally announced via Twitter that he was removing Florida’s coastline from the administration’s new drill from sea to shining sea policy.
First, apparently without any prior coordination or authorization from the White House, Secretary Zinke headed down to Florida shortly after announcing that Interior would be opening every U.S. coastline to oil and gas drilling. The announcement alone ruffled plenty feathers in coastal states, but Zinke wasn’t done.
Tweeting from his meeting with Florida Governor Rick Scott, who happens to be a rumored candidate for a critical senate seat, that ‘local voices matter.’ Let’s not forget that he failed to listen to the Bears Ears tribal coalition or any other coastal Governor now facing the possibility of drilling along their coastline.
Then, within minutes of the first tweet, Zinke announced that Florida was pardoned and would be removed from any future offshore drilling plans.
The justification was even more of a whopper, Florida’s tourism industry was too important to risk offshore drilling. He may have a point about the risk since the administration is already working to nullified rules that sought to prevent another BP Horizon oil spill, but the irony wasn’t lost on the rest of America.
Realizing the grave error made by Secretary Zinke that would essentially make the departments offshore drilling proposal fraught with legal challenges, the acting director of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) tried to downplay Zinke’s declaration. It was too late. Every state that has a vested interest in the jobs and businesses supported by tourism should request to be heard, and Zinke should listen to all of them, not just in coastal states.
This led to the Washington Post editorial board to ask if Zinke was cynical or incompetent? Unfortunately, for us Montanans, we know it’s both.