Trump’s Interior Secretary just made a stunning concession after oil drilling blacklash

Yesterday, Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke surged into the national spotlight when he announced that, on the heels of the Trump administration’s decision to expand offshore drilling rights off of the entire U.S. coast, he would exempt the state of Florida.

The announcement, which came after a meeting with Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, was instantly lambasted by governors from other coastal states that sought the same exemption.

As a result, Zinke was forced to walk back his impending drilling expansion plans.

“I will no doubt talk to every governor,” Zinke said. “It doesn’t matter to me whether you’re Republican or Democrat. This is going to be a long process. This is going to be at least a year with public comment. We have to get it right, look at the geology, look at the science.”

The difference between Florida and other states, of course, is that Governor Rick Scott is a Republican and, given the fact that he is term-limited, he will be seeking election to the U.S. Senate to unseat Democratic Senator Bill Nelson. In need of a political win – which this “waiver” for the decidedly unpopular offshore drilling expansion certainly is – Zinke’s exemption is just that.

“I have spent my entire life fighting to keep oil rigs away from our coasts,” Sen. Nelson said. “But now, suddenly, Secretary Zinke announces plans to drill off Florida’s coast and four days later agrees to ‘take Florida off the table’? I don’t believe it. This is a political stunt orchestrated by the Trump administration to help Rick Scott, who has wanted to drill off Florida’s coast his entire career. We shouldn’t be playing politics with the future of Florida.”

It did not escape public scrutiny either that Florida is the home of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s infamous “Winter White House.” In other words, offshore drilling is fine, just not in Trump’s backyard.

Of course, other states quickly picked up on this glaring double standard.

In the tumultuous aftermath of Zinke’s misguided and blatantly politicized decision, he is now forced to contend with the predictable fallout. Judging by such swift and vocal backlash, the road ahead promises to be ugly.

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Brian Tyler Cohen

Managing editor

Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.