White House: Goal of oil drilling expansion 'isn't to cross Gov. Scott'

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The Trump administration's newly unveiled plan to allow oil and gas drilling in federal waters including Florida wasn't intended to alienate Republican Gov. Rick Scott, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday, though his opposition didn't appear set to derail it.

The Interior Department announced a new five-year plan Thursday, as first reported by POLITICO, that could open up waters in the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as the eastern Gulf of Mexico, to drilling. The move, which would roll back policies implemented by past administrations to protect the regions, quickly encountered pushback from Florida officials.

Scott, a supporter of President Donald Trump, criticized the measure and requested a meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to request that Florida be removed from consideration for the drilling expansion.

"My top priority is to ensure that Florida's natural resources are protected," Scott said in a statement.

Sanders said at Thursday's press briefing that the relationship between the White House and the Florida governor remains strong.

“Our goal certainly isn’t to cross Gov. Scott," she said. “Just because we may differ on issues from time to time doesn’t mean that we can’t have an incredibly good and strong relationship."


Scott is widely expected to run for Senate in Florida and challenge Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat who has already vowed to fight drilling in the state’s coastal waters. Trump has repeatedly urged Scott to run since he became president.

During a conference call Thursday, Zinke touted the decision to expand drilling as a victory for the U.S. energy sector.

“This is the beginning of an opening up," Zinke said. "We will listen to all the communities of stakeholders. The states will have a voice.”


 

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