Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion mov­ing to ex­pand US off­shore drilling

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL - By Matthew Daly

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.

File, Mark J. Terrill / AP

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.

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