Thursday, January 11, 2018

Trump's coastal drilling plan (and Florida's exemption) par for the course

As if Donald Trump's plan to allow oil and gas drilling in US coastal waters, after decades of environmental protection, were not bad enough, he and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke have twisted the knife still further by exempting Florida from the plan.
Why Florida? Well, Trump's favourite hangout Mar-A-Lago is there, as well as several of his favourite golf courses. But, even more importantly, the announcement is almost certainly a political stunt in favour of the state's Republican governor Rick Scott, who is being encouraged byTrump to run for a Senate seat (currently Democrat-held).
So, of course, many the other coastal states, most of which are Democrat in demographic, are also asking for exemptions. California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey, Virginia and others are asking, "where do I sign up for an exemption". Even some Republican senators are questioning this bare-faced favouritism and political machination, although others, including environmentally-sensitive Alaska, appear quite happy with their vision of dollar signs.
The whole sad saga exemplifies two or three elements of Trump's typical modus operandi: one is the systematic dismantling of the USA's environmental protections (and, not incidentally, any progressive measures the Obama administration happens to have instituted); second is a measure of confusion and complication brought about by hasty and thoughtless planning (or sometimes, apparently, a complete lack of planning), usually requiring several tweaks and amendments; and finally, a willingness to flout (or, alternatively, just a compete lack of awareness of) laws and conventions that have been established over many decades for the protection of the environment, vulnerable members of society, minorities, etc. And, make no mistake, there will be legal challenges to this latest enormity.

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