On Thursday the Trump administration announced a new offshore oil and gas drilling plan. According to The New York Times, “The plan would give the energy industry broad access to drilling rights in most parts of the outer continental shelf, including Pacific waters near California, Atlantic waters near Maine and the eastern Gulf of Mexico.”
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) January 4, 2018
The proposal also opens up more than 100 million offshore acres previously protected from drilling by lifting a ban on offshore drilling that President Obama put in place before leaving office. That Obama administration plan protected areas on the Eastern seaboard and the Arctic by banning any new offshore drilling.
“We’re embarking on a new path for energy dominance in America, particularly on offshore,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said Thursday as he unveiled the plan. “This is a clear difference between energy weakness and energy dominance. We are going to become the strongest energy superpower.”
The Wall Street Journal also notes that the “plan would open 90 percent of offshore areas for drilling starting in 2019,” which would be the largest number of oil-lease sales in U.S. history.
According to Surfrider Environmental Director Pete Stauffer, “Expanded offshore oil drilling threatens recreation, tourism, fishing and other coastal industries, which provide over 1.4 million jobs and $95 billion GDP along the Atlantic coast alone.”
Drilling cannot begin overnight, as it will take up to 18 months to finalize the plan before it can even move forward. Plus, in places where there has been no offshore drilling previously (like much of the Atlantic), infrastructure will need to be put into place, which could take a decade or more before drilling could even start.
In the meantime, it appears many states may try to fight the plan to protect their coastlines from oil spills -- or at least the threat of oil spills. Governors of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon and Washington all stood in opposition of offshore drilling back when President Obama was reviewing the matter.
CEO of Surfrider Dr. Chad Nelson responded to the plan as such:
“Our ocean, waves and beaches are vital recreational, economic and ecological treasures to our coastal communities that will be polluted by new offshore oil drilling, regardless of whether or not there is a spill. Without a massive mobilization by coastal communities around the country in opposition to new offshore drilling, our voice will be drowned out by the lobbying power of Big Oil in Washington, DC.”
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