WASHINGTON (WJLA) — The Trump administration move to open 90 percent of the nation's offshore reserves to development by private companies in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans drew immediate opposition from Democratic and Republican state officials on the East Coast and the West Coast.
Governors up and down the East Coast, including Republican Govs. Rick Scott of Florida and Larry Hogan of Maryland, called on Trump to withdraw their states from the plan.
Virginia Gov.-Elect Ralph Northam said the Trump-Zinke plan would jeopardize Virginia’s economy and environment as well as national security.
"As governor, I'll join other governors in opposing this decision and continue my record of fighting for state-driven conservation solutions," Northam said.
“President Trump and Secretary Zinke are placing the interests of the oil industry above the well-being and interests of millions of Americans who depend upon clean water for their livelihoods and who treasure it as their heritage,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.
"We will fight every step of the way to protect our shores and our Chesapeake Bay from the dangerous and irresponsible decisions of this Administration."
Maryland Gov. Hogan, said he would oppose the plan "to the fullest extent that is legally possible."
Oil and gas industry groups praised the Trump administration announcement, but a coalition of more than 60 environmental groups denounced the plan.
"These ocean waters are not President Trump's personal playground. They belong to all Americans and the public wants them preserved and protected, not sold off to multinational oil companies," read the coalition's statement, which was signed by leaders of the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters and other environmental groups.
Last week the Trump administration proposed to rewrite or kill rules on offshore oil and gas drilling imposed after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers and triggered the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
President Barack Obama blocked Atlantic and Pacific drilling under a five-year plan finalized in 2016.
California was the site of the first offshore drilling in the U.S. more than 120 years ago, but the region was tarnished by one of the worst spills in U.S. history in 1969, when more than 3 million gallons of oil poured into the ocean near Santa Barbara, killing thousands of sea birds as well as dolphins, elephant seals and sea lions.
Public outrage generated by the spill helped spark the modern environmental movement, and no federal leases have been granted off the California coast since 1984.
Democratic Govs. Jerry Brown of California, Kate Brown of Oregon and Jay Inslee of Washington issued a joint statement slamming the proposal, which they said ignored science and the devastation of past offshore spills.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.