The new five-year drilling plan announced Thursday would open up federal waters off California for the first time in more than three decades. It also could open new areas of oil and gas exploration in areas off the East Coast from Florida to Maine, where drilling has been blocked for many years. While some lawmakers in those states support offshore drilling, the plan drew immediate opposition from governors up and down the East Coast, including Republican Govs.
Florida is still under consideration for offshore oil drilling, a top Interior Department official said Friday, contradicting an announcement last week from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that energy exploration off the coast of Florida was "off the table." The comments from Walter Cruickshank, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management director, came during a congressional hearing where he was grilled by two Democratic representatives, Jared Huffman of California and Darren Soto of Florida. "[Zinke's] statement stands for itself, and we have no formal decision yet on what is in or out of the five-year program," Cruickshank said in response to a question. Cruickshank later said an analysis would have to be done but that Zinke's statements would be taken into account. Zinke was more declarative last week.
States including New Jersey, New York, California, South Carolina and Rhode Island have introduced bills prohibiting any infrastructure related to offshore oil or gas production from being built in their state waters. Washington state is considering such a bill, and Maryland has introduced a bill imposing strict liability on anyone who causes a spill while engaged in offshore drilling or oil or gas extraction.