In what is sure to seem a controversial move to some, the Trump administration proposed Thursday that it is considering permitting drilling in most U.S. continental-shelf waters.
The plan includes drilling in areas such as the Atlantic and Arctic, considered protected areas and staunchly opposed by governors along the east coast and more than 100 U.S. lawmakers, according to The Washington Post.
According to Interior secretary Ryan Zinke, the proposal would exclude oil and gas exploration in only one of 26 planning areas in the Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
However, the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management recently identified 47 potential areas where companies within the industry can buy leases between 2019 and 2024 — the duration when the proposal would begin and end.
Yet, even though those such as The Draft Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program seem to be on board with the decision, the administration is expecting to face opposition from numerous state officials and environmentalists.
“Nothing is final,” Zinke said during a news conference. “This is a draft program. The states, local communities and congressional delegations will all have a say.”
And many conservatives, including Zinke, state the proposal is consistent with the president’s executive order in April when he made a pledge to widen energy exploration.
Zinke added that there was a clear difference between Trump’s plan and the previous administration’s policies.
The Obama administration, heeding the call of many environmentalists, had considered a five-year plan that would have permitted drilling in the Atlantic but abandoned the proposal by March of 2016 after concerns that the Navy conducted military exercises near those particular areas.
“This is a clear difference between energy weakness and energy dominance,” Zinke said, adding that the current administration would be cautious of environmental safeguards put in place.
However, environmental disasters of the past remain on the minds of many state officials along the east coast, specifically those who oppose drilling in the four planning regions all the way from Maine to the Florida Keys.
During a bipartisan call, both Republicans and Democrats have rejected to the uncertain terms that oil and gas drilling proposals have given.
“I’m not in favor of offshore drilling,” said Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.
And even Henry McMaster, the Republican governor for South Carolina, has expressed concern over the impact to natural resources when drilling is performed.
Yet, Zinke didn’t address the other potential resistance from the Pentagon, but Assistant Secretary Kate McGregor stated that a task force has been implemented between the Interior and Defense departments in order to cool any misunderstanding and deal with the conflicts.
“We believe things can be done safely,” McGregor said. “In fact, in the central Gulf of Mexico planning area, 36 percent of leases are in military planning areas.
“We intend to continue a very strong relationship with DoD.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.