Bill Nelson blocks three Interior nominees over offshore drilling plan
Jan 17, 2018 \\ By Peter Schorsch, Florida Politics
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson on Wednesday made moves to block three Department of the Interior Nominees until Secretary Ryan Zinke publishes a new offshore drilling plan that officially takes Florida “off the table.”
Zinke announced last week that the department would not explore offshore drilling in Florida, so far the only coastal state that has been given such a reprieve.
“As a result of discussion with Governor [Rick] Scott and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms,” Zinke said in a Jan. 9 statement.
The agency head went on to praise Scott for his leadership in Everglades restoration and during the 2017 hurricane season.
The move raised eyebrows, especially Nelson’s, as Scott is widely thought to be planning a run for Nelson’s Senate seat in the fall.
After the announcement, Nelson wrote a letter to Zinke requesting specific details on any changes made to the agency’s five-year drilling plan. Nelson has also said Floridians should view Zinke’s promise as “just empty words” until he follows through with a new plan officially excluding the Sunshine State.
The current plan, published a day before Florida was taken “off the table,” had its first public hearing Tuesday and the department’s maps still showed Florida waters as open for drilling.
In response, Nelson placed a hold on Susan Combs, nominee to Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget; Ryan Nelson, nominated to be Solicitor; and Steven Gardner, nominated to be Director of the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, & Enforcement.
Nominees on hold are blocked from being approved without a vote.