The politics of offshore oil drilling now on full display

Last week, U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the Trump Administration would put in motion a process that would ultimately expand offshore oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts. The move would end an existing moratorium in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico

Bipartisan criticism from the Florida delegation quickly followed. GOP Sen. Marco Rubio urged Zinke “to recognize the Florida Congressional delegation’s bipartisan efforts to maintain and extend the moratorium and remove (the Eastern Gulf) from future planning purposes.”

Bipartisan condemnation of offshore oil drilling prompted the Trump administration to scale back plans for exploration off the Florida coast.

Sarasota Republican Vern Buchanan described the plan as “reckless, misguided and potentially catastrophic to Florida.” Palm City Republican Brian Mast said drilling “puts our economy, environment and marine life at risk.”

These are just a few examples of statements coming from Republicans. All delegation Democrats opposed the plan, but Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who is running for a fourth term in November, immediately elevated his opposition into a crusade.

Press releases, tweets, Senate floor comments followed the announcement. Nelson said, “I can tell you as long as I’m in office, that’s not going to happen.”

One other key player weighed in. Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is expected to run against Nelson in November, said he had “already asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration.”

Scott got his meeting with Zinke almost immediately. On Wednesday, Zinke flew into Tallahassee for a meeting and a photo op. Afterward, Zinke told the media “Florida is obviously unique. For Floridians,

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