Trump Administration Unveils Plan to Lift Ban on Offshore Drilling
Trump Administration Unveils Plan to Lift Ban on Offshore Drilling
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06 January, 2018, 00:55
The new five-year drilling plan could also open new areas of oil and gas exploration off the East Coast in places from Georgia to ME, where drilling has been blocked for decades.
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.
West Coast elected officials were quick to condemn the plan. Jerry Brown and scores of environmentalists.
"This is the largest number of lease sales ever proposed", said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the administration's five-year plan would open up 90 percent of USA offshore reserves to drilling - representing the largest expansion in the nation's history. "Whether it means spills the size of Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf or just tar balls washing ashore as is the case along the California coast, drilling for oil is simply inconsistent with our Atlantic Coast economy".
"This is a clear difference between energy weakness and energy dominance", he told reporters in a conference call. "Nothing is final yet, and our department is continuing to engage the American people to get to our final product".
Mr Trump signed an executive order in April directing the interior department to reconsider a ban on offshore drilling imposed by his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
Despite these developments, Florida is still protected by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, which prevents drilling off the Florida coast until the act expires in 2023.
"The waters off the mouth of the Chesapeake are as much a part of the bay system as all the fresh-water rivers that feed it", Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker said in a statement.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also denounced the plan, saying in a statement that it "will throw open the floodgates to pollution, devastate small businesses which rely on the oceans, hamstring the military, and destroy good-paying jobs in America's tourism industry".
The proposal includes a dozen leases to companies looking to explore the Gulf of Mexico.
The 87-day oil spill led to 11 deaths and a $20.8bn (£1.5bn) settlement, the largest environmental damage settlement in USA history.
The Trump administration called the rules an unnecessary burden on industry and said rolling them back will encourage more energy production. The preventer used by BP failed. And a campaign director at Oceana says there is "widespread" opposition at the local level to drilling expansion. "Will we allow Florida's white beaches or the popular and pristine Outer Banks to share a similar fate?"
In comments to the Department of the Interior, Chevron expressed interest in opening the Pacific Coast for leasing, but ranked Southern California as seventh on their priority list, after regions in the Gulf and Atlantic.
Santa Monica-based public-advocacy group Consumer Watchdog called on Brown to send a message to Washington by immediately cut off drilling in state waters being done under existing leases within three miles of shore.
"Certainly states and local communities have a voice, and Scott's been a great governor", Zinke said. "It must be opposed to the fullest extent that is legally possible". The proposal would increase drilling off the coast of California, in the Arctic and along the Eastern Seaboard, from ME to Florida.
Thousands of sea birds were killed, along with dolphins, elephant seals and sea lions. "We still remember the horror of the 1969 Santa Barbara spill, when an offshore rig leaked more than 100,000 barrels".
Democratic Govs. Jerry Brown of California, Kate Brown of OR and Jay Inslee of Washington issued a joint statement slamming the proposal, which they said ignored science and the devastation of past offshore spills.
The administration could begin selling leases to drill in the Atlantic and other closed-off areas as early as 2019 if the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management speeds through the planning process this year.
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