Ranking Member Grijalva: This Administration’s Energy Policies Are Arbitrary, Political and Incompetent

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said today that the Trump administration’s sudden decision not to open the Florida coastline to offshore oil drilling shows how deeply arbitrary and politicized the nation’s energy policies have become under Republican control. Grijalva’s comments come after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke declared with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) yesterday – after a brief meeting during which the two men never left the Tallahassee airport[i] – that contrary to a recently released draft five-year drilling plan, Florida’s coast is protected.

Zinke’s move is widely seen as a political favor to Scott, who is expected to run for Senate next year, rather than the product of careful consideration under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). Offshore drilling is unpopular in Florida.

The administration’s decision-making process on the issue, Grijalva said, will not withstand even casual scrutiny. It violates the steps laid out in OCSLA for making this type of move and is clearly arbitrary and capricious policymaking.

The quick reversal contradicts frequent Republican demands for “certainty” and “predictability” for private companies in federal policymaking. As Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said while debating an offshore energy bill in 2014, “You tell us what the rules are, and they can play by those rules. It is a business necessity to have certainty and not have administrative officials simply change the rules on a whim at some particular time.”

Neither Bishop nor any other Republican lawmaker has objected to Zinke’s politicized about-face on Florida drilling. The move comes less than one week after the release of the most recent offshore drilling proposal, which included the Interior Department’s counselor for energy policy bragging about how the administration was “proposing to open up nearly the entire [outer continental shelf] for potential oil and gas exploration.”

“This administration’s energy policies are about favors to rich Republicans, not helping the American people,” Grijalva said today. “This president makes up any rule, at any time, for any reason, whenever it suits him, and Congressional Republicans applaud him every step of the way. This is worse than just bad environmental or energy policy; it’s incompetence. If private companies really want certainty and predictability, they need Democratic leaders who believe in consistency and the rule of law, not an out-of-control White House that makes policy based on which donor was in the room last and then announces it on Twitter.”

[i] Zinke tweeted a picture of his meeting with Scott that clearly includes a map of Tallahassee International Airport hanging on a wall of the conference room.

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