Political News

GOP rep: Florida drilling exemption 'sign of politics as usual'

Posted January 10, 2018 2:36 p.m. EST

— A South Carolina Republican said Wednesday that the Trump administration's decision to exempt Florida from offshore drilling -- after objection from a Trump ally -- seems politically motivated.

Rep. Mark Sanford told CNN's Brooke Baldwin on "Newsroom" that he would hate to imagine politics was behind the decision, "but it certainly looks, smells and feels that way."

"If this is not a sign of politics as usual, I don't know what is," Sanford said.

Sanford cited Florida's enormous political consequence in presidential elections as a potential reason for its exemption and also President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

"It smacks of what we never want to see in politics, which is it only self-serving," Sanford said. "I mean, you can't say I don't want to see an oil rig from Mar-a-Lago as I look out from the waters of Palm Beach, but it's OK to look at an oil rig out from Hilton Head or Charleston, South Carolina."

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a plan last week to roll back offshore drilling restrictions, and on Tuesday the administration announced that Florida would be exempt, citing its heavy reliance on tourism, after Zinke met with the state's GOP governor, Rick Scott.

Sanford argued that his state should receive the same kind of exemption due to South Carolina's tourism industry and he made an ideological appeal, referencing a desire for the federal government to defer to state and local authority.

"There's a principle at play," Sanford said. "And that's the principle of home rule, of federalism, that the government that's most local governs best."