A rat’s patootie by @BloggersRUs

A rat’s patootie

by Tom Sullivan

Platform Gail, Sockeye Offshore Oil Field, near Santa Barbara, Southern California. Photo Public Domain.

Palmetto State lawmakers this week winced at the prospect of oil drilling off South Carolina's rsort-lined shores and its "Grand Strand" beaches after the current administration lifted an Obama administration ban. The plan allows oil and gas drilling along nearly all of United States coastal waters.

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsay Graham told reporters from U.S. News "there are ways to drill offshore that would not hurt tourism," but did not elaborate. Tim Scott, the state's other Republican senator, urged buy-in from coastal communities first.

Months earlier, when federal officials barred oil drilling off the Atlantic Coast, Rep. Tom Rice — whose district includes Myrtle Beach, the heart of South Carolina's $19 billion tourism industry — said that, given discoveries of more onshore oil using technologies like hydraulic fracturing, "tapping new reserves in the Atlantic has become less and less feasible." On Thursday, Rice reiterated his previous opposition to drilling off South Carolina's coast.
Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, a Trump supporter, joined governors from North Carolina, Florida and Virginia in opposing the proposal.

California Gov. Jerry Brown and other West Coast officials are not fans either:

“For more than 30 years, our shared coastline has been protected from further federal drilling and we’ll do whatever it takes to stop this reckless, short-sighted action,” Brown said in a joint statement with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Sen. Kamala Harris called it “an incredibly harmful move.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Trump’s “reckless ‘drill, baby, drill’ approach threatens our oceans and coasts.”

The Golden State has come under assault by a flurry of policies of the sitting president. Permitting offshore drilling adds to the list:
“We’re the pot smoking state of gun regulations, and they want to criminalize pot, and they want to … let people run the streets with guns, so I think it’s a different perspective,” said Robin Swanson, a Democratic political consultant in Sacramento. “I think we need to remind the federal government that one in 10 Americans lives here in California, so if they want to pretend that California is an island and push us off as an island of misfits, they’re going to be without the economic engine that is California driving it.”

Trump, said Swanson, “has written off the state of California.”

For a state heavily steeped in the tradition of the environmental movement — and recollections of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara — Trump’s proposal to open stretches of federal waters to oil and gas drilling was especially galling. Support for offshore drilling here hit a record low last year, with just 25 percent of Californians in support, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll.

California has already moved to blunt the effects of the tax bill's $10,000 tax deduction cap on state property owners. Senate leader Kevin de León introduced a measure on Thursday not unlike credits other states offer for donations of conservation easement or private school scholarships. The bill would allow a donation to the California Excellence Fund in exchange for a dollar-for-dollar tax credit:
“The Republican tax plan gives corporations and hedge-fund managers a trillion-dollar tax cut and expects California taxpayers to foot the bill,” De León, also a candidate for U.S. Senate, said in a statement Thursday. “We won’t allow California residents to be the casualty of this disastrous tax scheme.”
California Republican state senator Andy Vidak asserted Thursday that Trump's policies are really "pro-United States of America," not anti-California. Responding to his Democratic colleagues complaints, Vidak added, “Do you really think that Speaker Ryan, [Mitch] McConnell and President Trump really give a rat’s patootie?”

Democratic minority legislators here in the Tar Heel State are well familiar with the rat’s patootie dynamic. Republicans have the power — they know not for how long — and plan to leverage it to the hilt to pass bills that favor their friends and punish their adversaries as well as fellow citizens who dare vote for them, where Republicans still allow them to.

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