Donald Trump proposes largest offshore drilling expansion in history

National Observer

On Thursday, the Trump Administration moved to open up vast expanses of protected coastline for offshore drilling. The plan opens up 90 percent of U.S. offshore reserves to private companies: from 2019 to 2024, forty-seven new leases are planned for the waters off Alaska, California, the Eastern seaboard and Gulf of Mexico.




Governor Scott’s Statement on Trump Administration’s Plan on Offshore Oil Drilling:


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, sent to face the press on Thursday, emphasized that the plan was a “draft” program. "Nothing is final yet, and our department is continuing to engage the American people to get to our final product," he said.

Environmental groups argue that opening up land from Santa Barbara to Cape Cod will likely reverse a decades-long decline in the number of active offshore drilling projects. The industry hit rock bottom in April 2010, when President Obama issued a six-month ban on all offshore exploration after a British Petroleum oil rig exploded, killing eleven and dumping five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. As he left office in 2016, Obama issued a last-minute moratorium for most of the U.S. coastline, including agreement with Ottawa on an Arctic drilling ban.

The U.S. Oil Fund, one of the world’s largest commodity indices, is up 2.5% since the beginning of the year.

[Data: Baker Hughes North American Rotary Rig Count]

“Donald Trump and Ryan Zinke are now trying to sell out our coastal communities, our waters, and our climate in order to please corporate polluters,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. “Rather than listen to the people they’re supposed to work for, Trump and Zinke are listening to the industry that’s bankrolled their campaigns and filled the administration.”

For those companies, Trump’s proposal is simply a promise made and promise kept.

In its 2017 forecast, World Oil, a leading industry magazine, observed that “the new Trump administration has… encouraged expectations that many of the recent federal regulatory and permitting challenges will be reconsidered and/or altered extensively.”

With Trump in office, “now, the industry is preparing to get back to work.”

-- with files from Ed Ngai