BREAKING: Key Administration Drilling Official Contradicts Zinke on Whether Florida Coastlines “Off the Table” for Offshore Drilling

Washington, D.C. – At a hearing of the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee moments ago, Walter Cruickshank, acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), said Florida is not off the table for offshore drilling activities, contradicting Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s tweeted statement a few days ago following a hasty meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). Cruickshank’s statement calls into question the entire process behind Zinke’s tweet and raises serious questions about who sets drilling policy for the nation’s coastlines.

Cruickshank’s statement came in response to questioning from the panel’s Democratic members.

“Instead of carefully following laws and regulations, this administration writes policy on a napkin, announces it on social media and calls it a day,” Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said following Cruickshank’s remark. “Our nation’s oceans and coastlines are being managed by an out-of-control administration with incompetent top leadership. Secretary Zinke’s tweet either represents official policy, in which case he’ll lose in court, or it doesn’t, in which case he shouldn’t have announced it in the first place. Both options are deeply embarrassing for this administration and unacceptable to the American people who demand better environmental stewardship.”

BOEM’s mission statement “is to manage development of U.S. Outer Continental Shelf energy and mineral resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way.” The agency, which is part of the Interior Department, regulates the nation’s offshore energy production and would be directly involved in any new offshore drilling operations in federal waters.

A video clip of the exchange will be available following the hearing.

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