Long road ahead for Trump offshore drilling order

Malcolm Fuller
May 9, 2017

The executive order will reverse part of a December effort by President Barack Obama to deem the bulk of USA -owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic as indefinitely off limits to oil and gas leasing.

The new executive order means that areas in the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans along with the US Gulf of Mexico could be opened up for drilling, reported the Reuters.

This morning the president stated the order allows for the creation of thousands of high paying American energy jobs. The demand to drill in these waters is also not what it used to be, thanks to increasing awareness of the environmental risk, as well as the clear shift in the market from oil and coal to natural gas and renewable sources of energy.

"But the federal government has kept 94% of these offshore areas closed for exploration and production".

The executive order aims to reverse part of a December effort by Obama to deem the bulk of USA -owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic as indefinitely off limits to oil and gas leasing.

"It is better to produce energy here than be held hostage by foreign entities", interior secretary Ryan Zinke said on Thursday in a briefing about the executive order, which will be called the America-First Offshore Energy Strategy. And on Wednesday, he signed another executive order that could expand oil and gas development on wilderness areas now protected as national monuments. The president's decision to review the Obama administration's anemic offshore leasing program and open up Arctic waters for energy exploration is an important step toward that goal.

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George Edwardson, president of the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, said his council may consider filing suit at some point to challenge an expansion of offshore drilling. "Trump is again going all-in for his Big Oil backers, with an executive order that attempts to undo President Obama's historic action".

"We are pleased to see this administration prioritizing responsible USA energy development and recognizing the benefits it will bring to American consumers and businesses", said American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard in a statement. In fact, the Interior Department only leases one percent of offshore areas-leaving vast amounts of our energy resources off the table.

Trump's signing of the "America-First Offshore Energy Strategy" comes a day before the People's Climate March, an worldwide protest against Trump's energy and environmental policies. They pointed out the order comes seven years after a large oil spill from a BP platform in the Gulf of Mexico, which had prompted them to urge a slowdown in offshore oil development.

"You know obviously after what happened with Deepwater Horizon, we would rather not have the potential for that happening here", he said. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said at a news conference Friday.

More than 120 coastal cities and towns from New Jersey to Florida_including cities such Wilmington, North Carolina, Myrtle Beach and Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia- have passed resolutions against Atlantic drilling and seismic testing.

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