Zinke hears West Coast governors, might reconsider offshore oil drilling

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown previously criticized Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for the plan to resume drilling for oil and gas off the shores of the United States, saying it would endanger Oregon’s coast.

SALEM, Ore. — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke agreed to consider exempting Oregon from the Trump administration’s offshore drilling plan after speaking with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, her office said Friday.

Brown previously criticized Zinke for the plan to resume drilling for oil and gas off the shores of the U.S., saying it would endanger Oregon’s coast.

Several other states have objected, but so far Florida has been the only one to receive an exemption, requested by its Republican governor. Zinke spokeswoman Heather Swift said Friday his office would provide no further information about the conversation with Brown.

The Interior Department said earlier in the day that Zinke had set up calls with the governors of Rhode Island, Oregon, California, Washington, Delaware and North Carolina.

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Zinke and Brown, a Democrat, spoke for 28 minutes, said her spokesman, Bryan Hockaday.

“Regarding the offshore drilling ban, Gov. Brown asked for the same consideration for Oregon’s ‘people’s coast’ as was given Florida,” Hockaday said. “Secretary Zinke agreed with concerns about the economic risks that offshore drilling could bring to Oregon and committed to work with the governor.”

Brown, in an interview with CNN earlier this week, noted that Oregon’s 362-mile coastline has been publicly accessible for more than 100 years and is important to the state’s economy, with 22,000 related jobs.

“We are outraged; this is absolutely unacceptable,” she said of the drilling plan. “There has been no drilling off the Pacific Coast for three decades.”

The governors of California and Washington also have told Interior they strongly oppose any new leasing off their…

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