WASHINGTON – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke continues to arm critics with confusing statements about the administration's plans for offshore oil drilling.
Appearing before a Senate committee today, Zinke again explained why he decided to exempt Florida from a five-year plan, outlining broad political opposition and the current federal moratorium on untapped areas of the Gulf of Mexico.
"Florida is different," he said.
But moments later, Zinke said, "Florida is still in the process."
He did not elaborate and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meeting moved on. We are seeking comment from Interior.
UPDATE: "He was just referring to the process and was noting that BOEM will finish the legally-required analysis of the planning areas, as is always done for all planning areas," an agency spokeswoman said.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson jumped on Zinke's words.
"The Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, in front of the Senate Energy Committee today, has just said very confusingly – but bottom line – Florida is still on the table for drilling off of the coast of Florida. This is exactly the opposite of what the people of Florida want."
In late February, Zinke said Nelson and other drilling opponents should be thanking him.