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Sununu: Oil drilling off NH coast unlikely

By Dave Solomon
State House Bureau

February 01. 2018 8:52PM
Off Shore Oil Rigs in the Santa Barbara Channel near the Federal Ecological Preserve enroute to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary in March 2015. The Trump administration is preparing to open the door to drilling rights in the Atlantic ocean. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

After meeting with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on Wednesday, Gov. Chris Sununu returned from Washington, D.C., feeling confident he would not have to worry about oil rigs appearing off the New Hampshire coastline.

The Trump administration in early January proposed opening nearly all U.S. offshore waters to oil and gas drilling to boost domestic energy production, but quickly granted an exemption to Florida.

“I was pretty clear about my opposition to any drilling off New Hampshire’s small but very pristine coastline,” Sununu told a group of reporters on Thursday. “Two things I took away were that our position is going to be taken into account in the final determination, and they believe New Hampshire is a low-yield target area.”

Sununu did not get the exemption granted Florida, but he sounded optimistic.

“They still have to go through their public process, so they can’t take us off the list,” he said. “But I took (Zinke’s comments) as a big win for New Hampshire … a very positive result coming out of that meeting as it pertains to offshore drilling.”

Sununu and DHHS Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers also had meetings with the chief administrator for Medicaid and Medicare, and left feeling confident about the state’s request for federal permission to impose a work requirement on able-bodied adults in the expanded Medicaid program.

“We’re working through a lot of the details,” Sununu said. “We went line by line through some of the issues. While we didn’t get any assurances, I have no doubt we are going to come to a final agreement in short order.”

Sununu also met with acting Director of National Drug Control Policy Richard Baum on the state’s response to the opioid crisis.

“He wanted to dive into the ideas we brought him, not just what funding streams could be developed but what are some of the best practices across the country,” Sununu said.

“The President and his team are working very hard, turning over every rock they can, to see what they can turn up for a funding mechanism. Obviously, that’s a key piece to this. I don’t think anyone has a silver bullet on it just yet, but they are working hard.”

State Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley says the governor came back empty-handed.

“Sununu might be enchanted by his access to the President, but he should use that access to get results for New Hampshire instead of doling out blind praise for empty assurances,” Buckley said.

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