PHILADELPHIA — New Jersey, saying it is frustrated with a lack of answers, filed suit against the U.S. Department of the Interior on Wednesday asking why Florida – and not the Garden State – was exempted from a Trump administration plan to expand offshore drilling.

At issue is the administration’s January proposal to drill off the Atlantic coast, from Florida to Maine, and also open up waters off California and in the Arctic. Quickly, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he would exempt Florida because it depends so heavily on tourism. New Jersey officials were outraged, given that the state has 130 miles of coastline that relies heavily on tourism, including its beaches in the summer and the year-round birding industry.

Zinke pulled Florida from the list after meeting with its governor, Rick Scott, a Republican. Scott is running an expensive campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, in what is widely viewed as a key Senate race for Republicans. Scott has reached his term limit as governor and was heavily courted by Republicans, including President Trump, to run for the Senate.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said he filed the civil suit because he had filed a Freedom of Information Act request in April asking for correspondence and documents related to conversations between Zinke and Scott. Aside from a brief response by the Interior Department in May that the request had gone out, he said, he has heard nothing.

“The administration continues to stonewall on a simple question: Why did they agree to exempt Florida from offshore drilling, while refusing to do the same for New Jersey?” Grewal said.

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