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An Expansion in Offshore Drilling?
13 January 2018, 03:57 | Devin Moran
Trump Wants To Open Nearly All Offshore Waters To Oil Drilling, And Governors Are Not Having It
Coastal states, especially California, Alaska and Florida, are especially sensitive to proposals to open the offshore seabed to oil and gas exploration because of oil spill risks that are escalating.
Florida politicians on Thursday pushed back on the Trump administration's move to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans with a plan that would also open up federal waters off the California coast for the first time in more than three decades.
"Mainers understand that their future - their economic and quality-of-life futures - depend upon clean oceans and clean beaches, and are vehemently opposed to opening the Gulf of Maine and the North Atlantic to oil and gasdrilling", Glen Brand of Sierra Club Maine said in an interview with the Portland Press Herald.
In a decision that might turn out to be a nightmare, the President of the United States Donald Trump has ordered that drilling be allowed in almost all offshore waters of the United States. In effect, these rollbacks pave the way for another such disaster.
By allowing this expansion this president Donald Trump is trying to fulfill his promise to increase domestic oil and gas production in the USA, with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke having highlighted the boost it would entail for the economy.
President Trump's plan puts powerful fossil-fuel interests ahead of those of coastal businessmen and women. Both are drilling critics, with Sanford noting Thursday that it "speaks very loudly" that all of the state's coastal municipalities oppose offshore energy exploration.
Nelson called the current laws requiring moratoriums on drilling off Florida's coasts "my", citing his efforts in 2006, jointly with then-U.S. Sen.
"The bottom line is that offshore drilling means oil spills, and the risk is even higher now that the Trump administration is weakening offshore safety rules", he continued. The plan opens up 90 percent of US 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.
Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior, said that this five-year plan would offer 90% of the reserves located offshore for lease, including areas of the Golden State. He said the Interior Department would not shortcut federal requirements for assessing the environmental consequences of the exploration and drilling plan.
Perhaps this will change.
A 60-day public comment period on regulations.gov will begin next week. "Allowing us to explore our offshore energy will boost our state economy and spur investment -- all while safely coexisting with our agriculture, tourism and fishing industries as well as USA military operations", council Executive Director David Mica said in a statement.
I hope he does.
But those sales would take place only after environmental impact statements have been filed and approved, not to mention settlement of various and predictable lawsuits to be filed by green organizations dedicated to the proposition that crude oil should remain in the ground "where it belongs". It failed previous year, but now the need is critical.
However, overcoming opposition on both coasts will be hard. "People don't want that, and business owners don't that, fisherman don't want that, and so there's really a large and bipartisan opposition to drilling for oil in these biologically rich waters".
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