NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, January 5th, 2018

Even Republicans like Mark Schoesler oppose drilling for oil off of Washington’s coast

Years ago, back when Jon Stewart was still the face of Comedy Central, The Daily Show aired a segment in which Stewart joked that the mascot of the modern-day Republican Party was not an elephant, but rather a portrait of Jesus drilling for oil. That joke has aged extremely well, especially considering Ryan Zinke’s declaration this week that he wants to give oil companies free rein to drill off both coasts.

While it may appear that the Republican Party’s love of the oil industry and its desire to extract, refine, and burn every last drop of black gold has no limit (even if our common home, the Earth, is destroyed in the process), it turns out there are a fair number of Republicans who just aren’t comfortable giving the oil industry unchecked permission to plunder and pillage America’s natural resources.

That includes Republicans who aren’t considered to be the slightest bit green.

Take Mark Schoesler, the top Republican in the Washington State Senate.

Schoesler — who is now the chamber’s Minority Leader following Manka Dhingra’s win in the 45th District — is as right wing as they come in Washington State, and was recognized last year by Tim Eyman as one of his key allies in the statehouse.

Nevertheless, Schoesler is among those who oppose Zinke and Trump’s unconscionable scheme to open Washington’s waters to oil drilling.

Schoesler said unequivocally today during CityClub’s 2018 Legislative Preview that he doesn’t support drilling for oil off of Washington’s coast in response to an audience question, to the surprise of many in the room.

Mark Schoesler speaking at CityClub

Republican Senator Mark Schoesler speaks at CityClub’s 2018 Legislative Preview (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

The question was as follows:

“I wondered what your position is regarding the federal government’s announcement that they’ll soon be drilling off the coast of Washington State for oil, in our fine waters,” inquired Katherine McConnell.

Democrats Sharon Nelson and Larry Springer fielded the question first, telling the audience they are appalled. Then it was the Republicans’ turn to weigh in.

“I’m opposed to drilling offshore in Washington,” Schoesler stated simply, leaning back from the microphone after speaking those seven words to signify that that would be the extent of his answer. State Representative Dan Kristiansen, the top House Republican, then offered his take. He was less emphatic in his answer, but stressed he also had concerns with the prospect of offshore drilling.

U.S. Representative Dave Reichert (WA-08) also indicated he thinks Zinke’s plan is irresponsible in a press release issued yesterday by his office.

“I am deeply concerned about the Administration’s proposal allowing for new oil and gas drilling opportunities in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, Gulf of Mexico, and off the coast of Alaska,” Reichert’s statement said.

“This moves America in the wrong direction and has the potential to have a negative lasting effect on our oceans as well as the shorelines of states on these coasts. Our country is at the forefront of developing efficient and cost effective alternative energy technologies and we should continue to support innovation in this area. These energy solutions of the future must be a part of our energy plan.”

Reichert previously signed a letter to Zinke asking the Department of the Interior not to open Washington’s waters to oil drilling… a plea Zinke chose to disregard.

Republicans on the other coast are also rather unhappy with the Trump regime’s immoral post-Christmas giveaway to the oil industry.

For example, take Rick Scott, Republican Governor of Florida. He’s no RINO (Republican in Name Only). And yet, here he was this week telling Zinke (and Trump, by extension) that they were making a big mistake.

Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, widely expected to battle this year for Nelson’s Senate seat, said Thursday they both intend to fight a Trump administration plan to open previously protected parts of the Atlantic Ocean and eastern Gulf of Mexico to offshore oil and gas drilling. Scott said he has requested a meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to discuss opposition to President Donald Trump’s effort to expand domestic energy production.

“Based on media reports, it is likely that the Department of the Interior will consider Florida as a potential state for offshore oil drilling —- which is something I oppose in Florida,” Scott said in a prepared statement shortly before Zinke unveiled the drilling proposal Thursday. “I have already asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who isn’t as right wing as Scott, went even further, saying he’d like to see legal action to stop Zinke’s drilling schemes.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Attorney General Brian Frosh are both expressing opposition to drilling off Maryland’s coast.

The Republican governor sent the Democratic attorney general a letter Thursday directing him to investigate the U.S. Interior Department’s plan, which was announced earlier in the day. Hogan called for “any viable legal claims, actions or suits against the U.S. government to prevent” offshore drilling in Maryland’s coastal waters.

The Zinke/Trump drilling scheme unveiled yesterday is tantamount to a declaration of war on the Earth, and it must be defeated. Future generations are counting on us to stop the forces of greed from ruining our planet, which is already in grave peril due to the ever-worsening climate crisis. It’s good to see that at least some Republicans are simply unwilling to go along with an agenda that puts the oil industry’s wildest dreams first at the expense of all of humanity.

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One Comment

  1. GOP=Gas,Oil,Petroleum Party

    # by Mike Barer :: January 6th, 2018 at 8:14 AM