Published: Fri, January 05, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Trump Administration Moves To Expand Offshore Drilling

The Trump administration on Thursday announced a five-year plan that would expand offshore drilling on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as well as the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. About 21,000 gallons spilled from an abandoned pipeline.

Environmentalists fear the impact of major oil spills, which would be hard to clean up or even impossible if they happened in the Arctic near Alaska. "Additional offshore oil along our coast would surely lead to more spills with similarly devastating impacts to the marine environment". Even the process of exploring new underwater oil fields, which involves the use of seismic air guns, can do "extraordinary damage to ocean life", said Noah Oppenheim of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.

"This political decision to open the magnificent and handsome Pacific Coast waters to oil and gas drilling flies in the face of decades of strong opposition on the part of Oregon, Washington and California - from Republicans and Democrats alike", Gov. Jerry Brown joined governors of OR and Washington in vowing to do "whatever it takes" to stop that from happening off the West Coast.

The opposition towards the stem order has already begun with California Governor Jerry Brown joining the governors of OR and Washington and issuing a statement saying, "For more than 30 years, our shared coastline has been protected from further drilling, and we'll do whatever it takes to stop this reckless, shortsighted action".

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Local resistance could make it hard for federal officials to make good on their plans.

It includes, among others, large swaths of the Gulf of Mexico coast and much of coastal California. "My top priority is to ensure that Florida's natural resources are protected, which is why I proposed $1.7 billion for the environment in this year's budget". Gov. Rick Scott (R) of Florida, where beach tourism on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts generates almost $50 billion dollars and a half-million jobs annually, according to a Florida Atlantic University report, said Thursday that he adamantly opposes drilling off the state's coast and requested a meeting with Zinke. The Trump administration is now seeking "the largest number of lease sales in USA history" for energy companies hoping to extract coastal oil and gas. "Seismic testing and drilling put our recovering fisheries, our coastal communities, and our tourism-based economy at undue risk at a time when booming oil and gas production is more than enough to meet our current energy needs".

"They've chosen to forget the utter devastation of past offshore oil spills to wildlife and to the fishing, recreation and tourism industries in our states".

California hasn't issued a new offshore oil and gas lease since the Santa Barbara disaster, according to the State Lands Commission.

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"We will deepen commitment to environmental stewardship, because we do it right", he said.

Mr Zinke's announcement comes a week after the Department of the Interior released a proposal to ease offshore drilling safety regulations that were created in the wake of BP's deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster.

"This announcement could help California increase our domestic energy production", said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, in a prepared statement. "The states, local communities and congressional delegations will all have a say" before the proposal becomes final in the coming months. He also noted it was a draft proposal that could change after public input.

"How do you square this excellent statement by Governor Brown and the other governors with the actions of Brown's regulators who have expanded offshore oil drilling in state waters?" asked Tucker. Dianne Feinstein, Massachusetts Sen. "Clean, reliable, abundant and affordable energy is what's driving our economy".

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