Gov. Kate Brown's office says Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has agreed to consider exempting Oregon from Trump administration plans to resume offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. coastal waters. Zinke should not only consider an exemption, he should grant it — and do the same for the governors of other coastal states who request it.
On Jan. 4, the Interior Department announced 47 potential lease sales on the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States — the largest 5-year lease program ever proposed, and the first major expansion of offshore drilling floated since the Reagan administration.
Opposition to the plan was swift and bipartisan. Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, both Republicans, blasted the plan, citing the risk to their states' coastlines. Less than a week later, Zinke announced that Florida was "off the table" after a conversation with Scott.
The rationale for giving Florida a pass? "... Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism," Zinke said. The fact that Scott is a Republican, the governor of a swing state and expected to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson surely had nothing to do with it.
Unique? Heavily reliant on tourism?
Oregon's coastline rivals any in the world, and every inch of it is publicly accessible. Tourism is vital to the coastal economy.
Ramping up leasing again would only increase the chances of a major spill.
Zinke should listen to the bipartisan chorus of opposition to the drilling plan, and act accordingly.