Trump Administration Proposes Massive Increase In Off-shore Drilling

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Ledyard King | USA Today | January 4, 2018

WASHINGTON  — The Trump administration is proposing to open up 90% of the Outer Continental Shelf off the U.S. coast to oil and gas exploration, the largest single expansion of off-shore drilling activity ever proposed.

"We're embarking on a new path for energy dominance,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters in a conference call Thursday.

Even before it was officially announced, the move to expand drilling was denounced by environmental groups who say it would not only disturb maritime ecosystems but also increase the supply and use of fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.

The proposal includes 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 planning areas —– 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, 7 in the Pacific Region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and 9 in the Atlantic Region.

The five-year plan, covering 2019 to 2024, was initiated by the America First Offshore Energy Strategy directive President Trump first unveiled in April that could eventually open up Arctic waters and millions of coastal acres off U.S. shores to oil and gas drilling.

"Our country is blessed with incredible natural resources including abundant offshore oil and natural gas resources, but the federal government has kept 94% of these offshore areas closed for exploration and production," the president said at the time. "This deprives our country of potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions in wealth."

Zinke said his agency would work with states and members of Congress who represent potential drilling areas to allay concerns. But the move already was getting pushback from Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott, a Trump confidante, who said he would oppose drilling off Florida’s coasts where tourism and coastal military installations are important to the state’s economy.

“I have already asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration,” the governor said in a statement released through his press office. “My top priority is to ensure that Florida’s natural resources are protected.”

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