This week, Marco Rubio removed a hold on the Senate’s confirmation vote for the Deputy Secretary of the Interior. Rubio first enacted the hold weeks ago because Kate MacGregor, the nominee, favors opening the waters off of Florida for offshore drilling.
An analysis by Documented featured in the Miami Herald shows Sen. Rubio has cause for concern. During the first 2 years of the Trump administration, DOI officials held 62 meetings with groups lobbying to open more US waters to offshore drilling. Many of these meetings were specifically about opening the waters off of Florida to drilling.
For instance, MacGregor held a meeting in May, 2018 on opening currently closed Gulf of Mexico waters with former Senator David Vitter, now a lobbyist for the offshore industry.
Records show MacGregor held at least 7 meetings with the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), a lobbying group focused on removing drilling limits offshore. NOIA is also an ex-client of MacGregor’s boss, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
In April of 2017, MacGregor facilitated a meeting between Secretary Zinke and NOIA, in which NOIA discussed “support for increased access to new offshore acreage.”
In a memo preparing Secretary Zinke for this NOIA meeting, MacGregor writes “The Department’s ultimate goal is to open access to new offshore areas”
The NOIA meetings coordinated by MacGregor must have gone well, she joined NOIA for their annual meeting at the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in October 2017.
Memos like this underscore MacGregor’s key role in promoting the offshore oil industry’s lobbying efforts to undermine limitations on offshore oil companies.
MacGregor also held 27 meetings with companies invested in oil exploitation off Gulf of Mexico that advocate for drilling off Florida’s coast – including many meetings with Exxon, Shell, Chevron, and BP. In addition to NOIA, she met multiple times with offshore lobbying groups, including the American Petroleum Institute (API), the National Ocean Policy Council (NOPC), and the International Association of Geophysical Contractors (IAGC).
All of the meetings included in this analysis include entities that advocate for opening the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast to oil drilling. All of the included meetings are either specifically about removing offshore protections, or are broad enough in their description to include conversations about reducing protections.