Those who fretted that President Donald Trump’s push for offshore drilling would mean oil rigs appearing off Northern California’s pristine coastline apparently can set their worries aside. If the governor of a coastal state is opposed to such drilling out of concern that an oil spill would inflict serious harm to the state’s tourism industry, the federal government is willing to back down. At least that’s how it appears.
Interior Ryan Zinke made such a pledge on Tuesday in announcing that Florida will be excluded from the offshore drilling plan. Zinke said he made the decision after Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, objected. Zinke tweeted that Scott is a “straightforward leader who can be trusted.”
This is good news for California where an equally straightforward Gov. Jerry Brown has already referred to the president’s offshore plans as “reckless and short-sighted.” He said on Wednesday that California will seek the same exemption. U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor, a Republican, have also pledged to seek exemptions for Virginia’s coastal waters. The governors of Oregon and Washington are expected to do the same.
No doubt those requests will be honored. Otherwise, one could conclude that the exemption is only for states that supported Trump in 2016 — so-called red states — and have Republican governors. Or it could invite a worse conclusion, that the Interior Department is primarily interested in protecting coastlines where the president owns vacation property, namely a coastal resort known as Mar-a-Lago.
Well, we hope we can perish that thought. Otherwise we would find ourselves asking the same question that Oregon Gov. Kate Brown posed on CNN, “Why is this OK for Florida and not OK for Oregon? In what universe is this OK?”