The narrative looked great for Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday.
The Donald Trump White House backed away from a proposal to permit offshore drilling off the coast of Florida, after a meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Zinke extolled the virtues of the Governor in the press release — lauding his “leadership,” calling him “straightforward.”
“I support the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coast is heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver. As a result of today’s discussion and Governor Scott’s leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms.”
Of course, questions were raised. Some Republicans had told POLITICO that the fix was in already on this. And Democrats noted that Scott backed offshore oil exploration as an “option” to becoming “energy independent” back when Barack Obama was President.
On Wednesday in Jacksonville, Scott disclaimed both the idea of a prearranged reversal from the Interior Department and dismissed allegations of a change in policy orientation on offshore drilling.
“I’ve been clear forever. I’m going to take care of this environment,” Scott said.
Scott noted that he “met and talked … multiple times” with Zinke over the last year, and “was very clear” that he didn’t want to see offshore drilling off our coast.
“When he came out with the proposal a week and a half ago,” Scott continued, “I asked to meet with him as soon as I could … we had the opportunity to meet and he took Florida off the table.”
“I’ve been very clear. I’m not going to allow anything to happen along our coast to impact our environment. I’ve said that forever,” Scott said.
“This proposal came out of the Trump administration. I opposed it. I let them know before they came out with it,” Scott reiterated.
Scott also rejected Sen. Bill Nelson‘s claim that the event was “a political stunt orchestrated by the Trump administration to help Rick Scott, who has wanted to drill off Florida’s coast his entire career.”