The administration’s five year plan opens most USA waters to leasing, including Alaska, Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic and Pacific.
In a huge reveal today, the Trump administration said it plans to release the largest number of offshore oil and gas lease sales in USA history. Floridas governor, two USA senators and other leading officials need to press this administration to replace this wild ambition with a more thoughtful plan to meet the nations energy and security needs and protect the state from the dangers of drilling.
The Obama administration’s five-year plan for the 2017-2022 period initially proposed leases in the waters off Virginia, North Carolina and SC, where the governors at the time specifically requested inclusion in the plan.
In other words, Trump is trying to open up essentially the entire USA coast to oil and gas drilling.
In addition to the oil and gas already in production offshore, the US offshore seabed may hold another 90 billion barrels of oil and 400 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, or more.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement that he was evaluating all options to protect the state’s natural resources from the Trump administration’s offshore drilling proposal “because we don’t want it and because we know what happens when it goes wrong”.
Needless to say, the proposal is being met with some pushback.
Trump’s plan takes a wrecking ball to President Obama’s environmental legacy. Over the last several years, thousands of Americans petitioned their local, state and federal governments to say no to seismic airgun blasting, which is damaging to marine life, and offshore drilling.
Argus Media points out that the Interior Department typically includes very large swaths of territory in the draft proposals because new territories can not be added at a later date without starting the lengthy process all over again. The likelihood of drilling in all of these regions is pretty low. Obama later reversed course following an outcry from environmentalists, including in Maryland, concerned about the effect a spill would have on beaches and the fishing industry.
Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Scott (R) of Florida said he has asked to “immediately” meet with Zinke to discuss his concerns about the plan and what he called “the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration”. The Southeastern states were eventually dropped from the final plan after the public comment process revealed widespread opposition in the coastal communities that would be most directly affected.
Brown joined both USA senators and other state officials a year ago in appealing unsuccessfully to Obama to ban California offshore drilling before he left office, and polls show most Californians opposed to offshore drilling. Just last week the Interior department proposed to amend the 2016 offshore production safety system rule in order to “reduce certain unnecessary regulatory burdens”.
High-profile politicians like Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Secretary of State Alex Padilla are reacting with furious statements, and many are noticing that the battle between Trump and California is heating up.
Trump’s approach- what his National Security Strategy calls “energy dominance”- opens up areas of continental shelf, estimated to hold 86 billion barrels of oil, that have been protected for decades under a presidential directive dating back to President George H.W. Bush.
These areas, according to the Los Angeles Times, have been off limits for drilling since the time of the administration of Ronald Reagan – the USA president between 1981 and 1989.
“By proposing to open up almost the entire OCS for potential oil and gas exploration, the United States can advance the goal of moving from aspiring for energy independence to attaining energy dominance”, said Vincent DeVito, counselor for Energy Policy at Interior. Even giants in the industry, including BP, are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to diversity their energy sources, as more countries and manufacturers reap the benefits of emerging technologies that are making consumer products more efficient and clean energy more reliable and affordable. The resource potential in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean is far from clear, and the economics are equally uncertain. That includes nearly the entire Pacific and Atlantic coastlines, as well as the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. “The price of oil is too low”, said John McNabb, former chairman and CEO of Willbros, one of the largest energy infrastructure contractors in the world.