How Favoritism Saved Swing State Florida's Shores
By: Torre Payton-Jackson
The Trump administration has made it clear that their main focus is rolling back Obama era policies. This, coupled with the Trump administration stance on climate change,makes it not too surprising to some that roll backs on former President Obama’s offshore drilling regulations have been in place.
It is now permissible and easily more accessible to drill offshore of states such as Oregon, California, and Florida. This was formerly banned by former President Obama in an effort to conserve the environment. However, Trump has decided to side with big business who use offshore drilling to create more revenue.
In a surprising twist, Donald Trump has recently exempted Florida from the new roll backs. From the ten states that were originally in this plan, California and Washington among others wrote official letters opposing this drilling to the Department of Interior Design. However, Florida did not go through the process but was exempted from this new policy regardless while the rest were not.
Many argue that this is the work of political favoritism. During the election and with midterms coming up, Florida was and will always be (until it is completely underwater in 2050) a key state. To keep Florida happy is to keep another Bush Gore situation from happening again. It also helps that Florida Governor Rick Scott is a very likely candidate to run for Senate this midterm election. With the midterms coming up and a lot of pressure for Republicans to keep their control over the House and Senate, Scott is highly favored in D.C. This favoritism may be subject to prosecution under federal law and some political scientists argue it must be taken seriously at once. The federal law in particular that has been violated is the requirement of a formal notice and a comment period that is needed before taking regulatory action.
Of course the Department of Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, denies any favoritism and does not comment on the legality of the issue at hand. Zinke faces heat from every side with this decision. The American Petroleum Institute has called Zinke’s decision “premature” and condemns the pulling of Florida from the new policies. While states such as California call out Zinke who claims that Florida needs its waters to promote tourism while California needs its waters for the same purpose.
While the other states are fighting for waters without offshore drilling, Florida is able to relax without worry. Environmentalists continue to worry about the effects offshore drilling will have on the ocean and everyone’s health and big businesses are already trying to cash in on this opportunity. At least one thing is abundantly clear: even in politics you can not escape favoritism.