January 20, 2018

The Trump Administration Proposes Opening Almost All Federal Waters To Offshore Drilling

13 January 2018, 11:43 | Christie Tate

Oil drillings offshore of a service pier in the Santa Barbara Channel off the coast of Southern California near Carpinteria. – AP

Oil drillings offshore of a service pier in the Santa Barbara Channel off the coast of Southern California near Carpinteria. – AP

The Interior Department said more than 800,000 comments from stakeholders have been received thus far, and the public will have additional opportunity to comment before the plan is finalized. We're going to listen to the voices of all the stakeholders.

The Trump administration has revealed the first draft of a five-year plan to boost the U.S. offshore oil and gas market.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will unveil the updated National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program at 13:00 EST, the department said in a press release. It was praised by industry groups that said it would help secure America's energy needs.

Before he had left office, US President Barack Obama had ordered limiting the drilling, protecting more than 100 million acres of offshore waters in the Arctic and Atlantic regions.

The Surfrider Foundation's home page offered a bleak message on Thursday following the Trump Administration's announcement it would open up virtually all US waters to offshore drilling. "Yet, the United States has severely restricted oil and gas exploration off our shores, even as Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Norway, Russia and countries in Africa are actively exploring their own offshore areas". While some lawmakers in those states support offshore drilling, the plan drew immediate opposition from governors up and down the East Coast, including Republican Govs.

The plan now is to open up leases offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and in the Atlantic and Pacific, including areas that have been off-limits for decades. Some say that drilling would simply produce resources for the industry to export rather than contributing to energy independence in the U.S.

Zinke said the plan is an attempt to responsibly improve the nation's economy and energey security.

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The draft identified 47 areas for potential oil and gas production, which industry companies can buy leases for between 2019 and 2024.

Opening the oceans to drilling is part of President Trump's boneheaded desire to ride fossil fuels to achieve global "energy dominance", which means returning to more burning of coal, slashing regulations governing emissions from fossil-fired plants, and expanded mining and drilling operations. Environmentally conscious Californians oppose offshore oil drilling.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, issued a statement following the announcement explaining his opposition to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Residents, environmental groups and small-business owners who call Florida home say there is simply no place for oil drilling in the Sunshine State.

We have been drilling offshore for 70 years and while there have been some accidents, the amount of damage to "America's oceans, coastal economies, public health and marine life" has been minimal.

In response to the proposed 2017-2024 Leasing Program in 2014, the Governor of California joined the Governors of OR and Washington in opposing federal offshore oil and gas leasing.

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