Trump administration moving to expand US offshore drilling
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration moved Thursday to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans with a plan that would open up federal waters off California for the first time in more than three decades.
The new five-year drilling plan also could open new areas of oil and gas exploration in areas off the East Coast from Florida to Maine, 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. Rick Scott of Florida and Larry Hogan of Maryland, who pressed President Donald Trump to withdraw their states from consideration.
Democratic governors on both coasts blasted the plan. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it “another federal assault on our environment” while California Gov. Jerry Brown vowed to block “this reckless, short-sighted action.”
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the plan, saying that responsible development of offshore energy resources would boost jobs and economic security while providing billions of dollars to fund conservation along U.S. coastlines.
The five-year plan would open 90 percent of the nation’s offshore reserves to development by private companies, Zinke said, with 47 leases proposed off the nation’s coastlines from 2019 to 2024. Nineteen sales would be off Alaska, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, nine in the Atlantic and seven in the Pacific, including six off California.
“This is a draft program,” Zinke told reporters during a conference call. “Nothing is final yet, and our department is continuing to engage the American people to get to our final product.”
Industry groups praised the announcement, which would be the most expansive offshore drilling proposal in decades. The proposal follows Trump’s executive order in April encouraging more drilling rights in federal waters, part of the administration’s strategy to help the U.S. achieve “energy dominance” in the global market.
The Obama administration imposed tougher rules in response to the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2009.
The Trump administration is advancing a plan to open up federal waters off the California coast to drilling for the first time in more than 30 years.