January 30, 2018

Baker forming group in opposition to offshore drilling

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Gov. Charlie Baker has said Massachusetts does not support offshore drilling in the North Atlantic.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday he's working to build a coalition of eastern seaboard governors in opposition to the Trump administration's plan to open the North Atlantic to offshore oil drilling.

Some governors of states along the coast have already reached out formally to the Department of Interior to express their opposition, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott won an exemption for his state. But while the Massachusetts Congressional delegation has called on Baker to speak up, the governor said he's eyeing the Feb. 15 deadline for public comment.

"I would like to see if we can't bring some of the other Republican and Democrat governors and maybe, with them, their delegations along, up and down the East Coast, so that's really been our focus over the last few weeks," Baker said during an interview on WGBH's Boston Public Radio on Monday.

The Baker administration in June told Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that Massachusetts does not support opening areas of the North Atlantic adjacent to the state for oil and natural gas exploration. That position was stated in a letter pertaining to the federal government's review of protected marine monument areas.

Zinke announced earlier this month a plan to make more than 90 percent of the national outer continental shelf available for oil and gas exploration.

"What we've been doing is talking to governors down the coast, because our view on this is, in some respects, if we can get governors up and down the East Coast to all agree to take a position on this particular issue that would be a far more significant sense of those states than it would be for me to just do it on my own," Baker said.

Asked if Baker had spoken to New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu or Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Baker said, "We have several...We're talking to a bunch of people on this one."

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