January 15, 2018
“Not Off Our Coast,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) tweeted on January 11, in response to a new policy announced by the Trump administration that would expand offshore oil drilling on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States.
The governor is among a handful of state leaders who are protesting both the new policy and the exemption of largely Republican Florida from that ruling—which has greatly angered the other states affected
Specifically, ARS Technica reported, the governors of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon, and Washington all oppose the practice. And Democratic senators from Florida and Massachusetts, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and Republican South Carolina Representative Mark Sanford also have come out in opposition to new leases being auctioned off outside of their constituencies.
Cooper said, “We’ve been clear: This would bring unacceptable risks to our economy, our environment and our coastal communities.”
According to a report by The Washington Post, the Florida carve-out, announced January 9 by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, created new doubts about the fate of the entire offshore drilling decision — and immediately became another challenge for Republicans as they work to hold off Democrats in the midterm elections.
Nine of the 11 states that opposed the drilling order, the Post said, have gubernatorial races this year, and many of the most competitive contests for the House of Representatives will unfold in districts that touch coastline.
Most Americans oppose the change in policy, as well. Indeed, 59% of U.S. adults said they prioritized protecting the environment in Gallup’s March 2017 Environment survey, compared with 34% who supported the production of oil, natural gas and coal. This was the highest percentage who favored protecting the environment over energy production since 2001.
While not directly related to offshore drilling, less than half of Americans expressed support for opening up additional federal land for oil exploration in that same poll. This was down from 65% in 2014 when Gallup first asked the question.