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Twenty-two senators from Rhode Island, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and Maryland say their states don’t want oil & gas drilling off their coasts and demand equal treatment
 
WASHINGTON -- A group of U.S. Senators representing coastal states is telling the Trump Administration that they don’t want oil and gas drilling off their coasts, and are demanding the same respect for their states that was recently given to Florida, which was granted a special exemption by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
 
In a letter sent to Secretary Zinke today, 22 U.S. Senators, including Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.), requested that their states be given the same treatment that the Trump Administration gave Florida and be immediately exempted from any new offshore oil or gas leases. This follows their letter last week to Secretary Zinke protesting the move.
 
Last week, the Trump Administration announced a controversial plan to dramatically expand drilling leases across 90 percent of the U.S. outer continental shelf, including the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and parts of the Arctic Ocean.  Soon thereafter, the Interior Secretary had a discussion with Florida’s Governor and took the offshore drilling expansion off the table for federal waters off the coast of Florida without any public hearings or input, stating: “I support the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.”  The Trump Administration denies that Florida received a special exemption because President Trump owns property along the state’s coastline.
 
The Senators want an immediate exemption for their states too, writing: “Just like Florida, our states are unique with vibrant coastal economies. Providing all of our states with the same exemption from dangerous offshore oil and gas drilling would ensure that vital industries from tourism to recreation to fishing are not needlessly placed in harm’s way.
 
“We urge you to honor the commitment of this Administration by listening to the local and state voices that we represent and to respect their overwhelming opposition to oil and gas drilling off our coasts.  Instead of focusing on short term benefits for oil and gas companies, our country should be looking toward a clean energy future.  We hope we can work with you to protect our natural resources, our environment, and the livelihoods of coastal residents so that they remain for future generations.”
 
In addition to Cardin and Van Hollen, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
 
These Senators strongly oppose the Trump Administration’s offshore drilling plan, which is bad for the environment and public health and could devastate coastal economies. 
 
A copy of the letter text follows:
 
January 11, 2018
 
The Honorable Ryan Zinke   
 
Secretary        
 
United States Department of the Interior      
 
1849 C Street NW     
 
Washington, DC 20240         
 
Dear Secretary Zinke:
 
 We write to you today regarding your recent decision to remove Florida from inclusion in the Trump Administration’s new proposal to open up the vast majority of the outer continental shelf to oil and gas drilling.  We request that our states also be immediately exempted from any new oil or gas leases as a part of this plan.
 
 In the statement on your decision to remove Florida, you indicated that President Trump had directed you to reestablish our country’s offshore oil and gas leasing program in a way that “takes into consideration the local and state voice.”  In addition to Florida, the states of Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Connecticut, California, Oregon, and Washington have all opposed this plan for new leases off their coasts.  Coastal cities and towns across the country have also passed resolutions in opposition while local residents, businesses, scientists, the military, and others have publicly raised serious concerns.
 
Just like Florida, our states are unique with vibrant coastal economies.  Providing all of our states with the same exemption from dangerous offshore oil and gas drilling would ensure that vital industries from tourism to recreation to fishing are not needlessly placed in harm’s way.
 
 We urge you to honor the commitment of this Administration by listening to the local and state voices that we represent and to respect their overwhelming opposition to oil and gas drilling off our coasts.  Instead of focusing on short term benefits for oil and gas companies, our country should be looking toward a clean energy future.  We hope we can work with you to protect our natural resources, our environment, and the livelihoods of coastal residents so that they remain for future generations.