Friday, 23 June, 2017

Long road ahead for Trump offshore drilling order

Trump Signs Executive Order Aimed at Expanding Offshore Drilling Trump orders multi-year review for offshore oil and gas drilling
Craig Ferguson | 04 May, 2017, 23:48

This morning at the White House, President Donald Trump ratified an executive order to review offshore oil and gas exploration locations, in the presence of Congressman Don Young, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski and U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan.

Hours after Trump signed the order, California state Sen. "The Eastern Gulf is in close proximity to existing production and infrastructure, and opening it would most quickly spur investment and economic activity, which could create thousands of jobs and provide billions of dollars in government revenue". Under current restrictions, about 94 percent of that outer continental shelf is off-limits to drilling.

The new executive order could expand offshore drilling to parts of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans, along with the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

President Donald Trump's executive order seeking to find new ocean expanses in the Atlantic and the Arctic for offshore drilling is unlikely to reach its goals anytime soon, but instead will kick off a yearslong review and a legal battle.

In this sense, Trump authorizes Zinke to consider the possibility of repealing or changing "onerous regulations that delay the creation of employment".

The announcement was met with criticism from environmentalists, who pointed to past drilling disasters, such as the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Trump called his executive action "another historic step" toward increased domestic energy production.

For instance, Obama had used his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to protect Arctic areas from oil drilling late previous year, a move Trump's order seeks to undo. Obama used a 1953 law called the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to protect the areas under the ban.

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Environmental groups, including Oceana and the Center for Biological Diversity, criticized the order and promised to fight it in court. It comes just before the symbolic 100-day mark of his administration and instructs the Commerce Department to also review all marine sanctuaries created or expanded in the past 10 years.

While Trump vowed to pull the US out of the agreement during his campaign, the administration has not yet signaled whether it plans to do so. For Trump, however, the drilling bans are an obstacle standing in the way of energy independence.

Scores of coastal parks nationwide could be affected, either by oil rigs on the horizon or spills following an accident, according to the National Parks Conservation Association, a nongovernmental organization that promotes the parks.

Reviewing and rewriting the current offshore drilling plans are expected to take several years. "But if they start drilling for oil and gas, they have to transport it somewhere", she said.

The Arctic could see more oil drilling because of the order.

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Zinke said east coast lawmakers are keen to promote offshore wind and he is "optimistic" about its future.

An anti-drilling rally is being held today in Virginia Beach.

"California's iconic coastal and marine waters are one of our state's most precious resources, and as elected officials, it is our duty to ensure the long-term viability of California's fish and wildlife resources, and thriving fishing, tourism and recreation sectors", de León said.

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