Trump's Interior Secretary Proposes Selling Offshore Drilling Leases Starting in 2019

Trump's Interior Secretary Proposes Selling Offshore Drilling Leases Starting in 2019

Cheryl Sanders
January 13, 2018

Governors in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and SC have come out against opening waters off their coasts to oil and gas drilling.

Independent experts are dubious. Recently, the US Department of the Interior has also proposed to repeal some of the safe production provisions that were introduced following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil accident, which killed 11 people, and poured billion barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The administration of President Donald Trump is proposing to open nearly all US coastal waters to oil drilling, including those off California and Florida where activists have fought for decades to spare delicate ecosystems from oil spills. The plan would also allow drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska. "Based on media reports, it is likely that the Department of the Interior will consider Florida as a potential state for offshore oil drilling -- which is something I oppose in Florida", Scott said in a prepared statement shortly before Zinke unveiled the drilling proposal Thursday.

"We are going to become the strongest energy superpower this world has ever known", Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters Thursday in a conference call. The five-year plan, which has been released in draft form, would make available 90 percent of the nation's Outer Continental Shelf acreage to development by private companies; 47 oil and gas lease sales are proposed for 2019 through 2024 (19 off the coast of Alaska, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, nine in the Atlantic, and seven in the Pacific). This includes areas where drilling has been blocked for decades.

The regulatory repeal follows the announcement by the Interior Department in October that it meant to sell leases for all remaining unleased areas on the outer continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico.

Industry groups praised the plan.

Nelson described the plan as "an assault on Florida's economy, our national security, the will of the public and the environment".

What do the coastal states say?

"This radical offshore drilling free-for-all is a clear example of politics over people, ignoring widespread local and state opposition", said Diane Hoskins, a campaign director for the marine conservation group Oceana. Scott was not the only Florida Republican criticizing the proposal.

The move also drew condemnation from many top California officials, including Gov.

In a joint statement, three of the coastal states affected by the plan - Washington, Oregon and California - said they would "do whatever it takes to stop this reckless, short-sighted action".

Will the plan be approved? "Today's announcement lays out the options that are on the table and starts a lengthy and robust public comment period", he said. The US now imports at least 40 percent of its oil each year, or over 3 billion barrels annually.

It is estimated that these waters would be home to 98 {ed1200bddbc03902e1fcc2a87da27944790d59ab127710d2b088ca8caae8436e} of the unexploited oil and gas resources in the United States. The state of California has legal tools at its disposal which are very powerful to annul the new development for off-shore drilling.

"Communities surrounding our 88 coastal national parks, including Santa Barbara, Charleston and Baltimore, have formally opposed offshore drilling and exploration", Lund said.

President Trump's proposal calls for new offshore drilling off the Northern, Southern and Central California Coast.

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