GOP congressman: Trump may have exempted Florida from offshore drilling because of Mar-a-Lago

Sean Rayford/Getty ImagesGOP Rep. Mark Sanford

  • The Trump administration decided to exempt Florida from new plans to open up the US to more offshore drilling.
  • GOP Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina suggested that the change was politically-motivated.
  • Sanford also told CNN the move may be “self-serving” since Trump has properties, such as Mar-A-Lago, along the Florida coastline.

GOP Rep. Mark Sanford suggested that a sudden exemption for Florida from President Donald Trump’s new offshore drilling plan may have to do with the president’s own business.

In an interview with CNN, Sanford said the exemption from the Trump administration’s new plan to open 98% of the US’s offshore waters to drilling for Florida smacked of politics since the state is important in presidential elections.

The South Carolina Republican, who represents parts of the state’s coast including Charleston, also said there may have been a personal motive for Trump behind the move.

“I would also say this, it smacks of what we never want to see in politics which is: Is it self-serving?” Sanford said. “I mean you can’t say, ‘I don’t want to see an oil rig from Mar-A-Lago’ as you 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.”

The Trump administration has denied that the change is motivated by politics or Trump’s own properties.

The move to exempt Florida form the new drilling plan came Tuesday. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said that Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott made a compelling case that the new plan would hurt Florida tourism.

Other states along the coasts, many with Republican governors, have pledged to fight the rule and seek the same exemption Florida received.

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