Why Zinke Gave Florida a Break on Drilling

After announcing the coast of almost all states would be open for oil and gas production, the Secretary of the Interior changed his mind on one after meeting with Trump’s favored candidate for Senate.

2 minute read

January 19, 2018, 12:00 PM PST

By Katharine Jose

A private club located in Florida

FloridaStock / Shutterstock

Reviewing a year of the Department of the Interior under Ryan Zinke, Elizabeth Kolbert notes that he is, "in many ways, a typical Trump appointee" in that "[n]early all Trump’s Cabinet members have shown disdain for the regulatory processes they’re charged with supervising."

Since he first rode into town and raised his flag over the agency, Zinke has reopened federal land for coal leases, recommended shrinking Bears Ears National Monument, expressed interest in making it easier to drill for oil and gas on public land, and rolled back regulation on methane.

Earlier this month, despite bipartisan opposition from both politicians and voters, Zinke announced he would open almost all of the coastal areas in the United States to offshore drilling.

Several days later, he took part of it back. After a brief meeting with Florida Governor Rick Scott, Zinke removed the state’s coast from consideration.

“The move was manifestly political. In the past, Scott has supported drilling for oil just about everywhere, including in the Everglades, but, with Trump’s encouragement, he is now expected to challenge Florida’s senior senator, Bill Nelson, a Democrat, in November.”

Even more recently, Zinke’s refusal to meet with the National Park Service Advisory Board prompted the resignation of nine of its 12 members.

"In the decades to come," Kolbert writes, "one can hope that many of the Trump Administration’s mistakes—on tax policy, say, or trade—will be rectified. But the destruction of the country’s last unspoiled places is a loss that can never be reversed."

Thursday, January 18, 2018 in The New Yorker

Chicago Intercity Rail

Amtrak Ramping Up Infrastructure Projects

Thanks to federal funding from the 2021 infrastructure act, the agency plans to triple its investment in infrastructure improvements and new routes in the next two years.

September 25, 2023 - Smart Cities Dive

View of Interstate 205 bridge over Columbia River with Mt. Hood in background.

The Unceremonious Death of a Freeway Expansion Project

The end of an Oregon freeway project didn't get much fanfare, but the victory is worth celebrating.

September 19, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

Google maps street view of San Francisco alleyway.

Ending Downtown San Francisco’s ‘Doom Loop’

A new public space project offers an ambitious vision—so why is the city implementing it at such a small scale?

September 26, 2023 - Fast Company

Aerial view of coastal development and bright blue ocean in Kaua'i, Hawai'i.

Kaua’i County Uses Long-Range Models to Mandate Resiliency Standards

The county requires builders to assess potential flood risks using models that account for sea level rise projected as far out as 2100.

September 28 - Smart Cities Dive

Semi truck driving down freeway with twilight sky in background.

California Governor Vetoes Autonomous Truck Ban

Gov. Newsom called the new law unnecessary, citing existing efforts by state regulators to develop new rules around autonomous trucking.

September 28 - Wired

Roadside motel with turquoise room doors in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Low-Barrier Motel Shelter Is a Success—But Not an Easy One

Many guests at Motels4Now are on their second or third stays—but staff say that's doesn't equal failure, and the numbers bear that out.

September 28 - Shelterforce Magazine

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.