Gov. Nathan Deal is still not ready to stake a position on the Trump administration’s move to open nearly all of the nation’s coastal waters to offshore oil and gas drilling.
“We’re premature right now to make any preliminary requests that we be totally excluded,” he said of Trump’s plan to give energy companies access to more than a billion acres off America’s shore.
“But my preference would be that nothing be done that would interfere with our tourism industry and our prime tourist attractions,” he added.
The New York Times reported that he’s the only governor of a coastal state still undecided on the issue. Every governor on the West Coast and all but one – Maine – on the Atlantic seaboard opposes the plan. The governors of Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are on board.
And Florida won a reprieve from the order earlier this month. Gov. Rick Scott – a vocal Trump backer likely to run for the U.S. Senate – earned an exemption after appealing directly to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Deal, who earlier said he was worried about marring Georgia’s “pristine” shore, elaborated about his concerns at a state tourism event. He noted that government surveys suggest there’s little recoverable oil off Georgia’s shore, potentially rendering the debate a moot point.
“You’re not going to have drilling unless there’s something worth drilling for,” Deal said. “And my understanding is that preliminary tests in the past have indicated there probably is not a resource worth drilling off the Georgia coast for.”