Thursday, 20 September, 2018

California officials defy Trump's oil-drilling proposal as risky, unneeded

Trump administration aims to open nearly all US offshore waters to drilling California leaders vow to fight Trump expansion of offshore oil drilling
Ray Hunter | 13 January, 2018, 04:00

Shell welcomed the expanded offshore prospects the Trump administration plans to make available, but has not committed to any new activity, said spokesman Curtis Smith.

The program also proposes the largest number of lease sales in US history for the National OCS Program's 5-year lease schedule.

"Millions of Americans have raised their voices to send a message, loud and clear, that they do not want offshore drilling off our coasts", Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement accusing Trump and Zinke of listening instead to "the industry that's bankrolled their campaigns and filled their administration". "We will produce enough energy to meet our needs at home, and we will export enough energy to lead the world".

Lawmakers condemning the proposal Thursday included California Sen.

"I urge Secretary Zinke to recognize the Florida Congressional delegation's bipartisan efforts to maintain and extend the moratorium in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and remove this area for future planning purposes", said Rubio.

In a striking about-face, the Interior Department announced yesterday that it wants to allow drilling in almost all US waters, the single largest expansion of offshore oil and gas leasing ever proposed by the federal government. The plan would also allow drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska.

The proposal drew howls of protest from Republican and Democratic leaders in Florida, where offshore drilling is something of a third-rail political issue.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, an ally of Trump, has already vowed to fight attempts to drill in Florida.

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New offshore drilling projects can take up to a decade to develop and cost billions of dollars.

The new five-year plan would open 90 percent of the nation's offshore reserves to development by private companies, Zinke said, with 47 leases proposed off the nation's coastlines between 2019 and 2024.

"The administration's backward-looking approach puts oil and gas profits first - and will place our coastal communities and all they support at risk of the next BP-style disaster", said Natural Resources Defense Council President Rhea Suh, referring to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Last year, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke promised to "listen to state and local stakeholders" as his department's reviewed offshore oil and gas.

This is set to include two leases each in the central, southern and northern coasts of California and one lease of the coast of OR and Washington.

Zinke emphasized that the draft plan could be narrowed in response to feedback from the public and politicians. Additionally, the tax bill signed into law in late December 2017 (P.L. 115-97) included a provision that opened a section of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and drilling. "These ocean waters are not President Trump's personal playground", it said. The American Petroleum Institute, an energy industry advocacy organization, said in a statement that the "plan is an important step towards harnessing our nation's energy potential for the benefit of American energy consumers". He added that the US has restricted offshore exploration as other countries including Canada and Mexico have stepped up their coastal activities.

For decades, the waters off the US coast have been protected and blocked for oil and gas exploration but with US President Donald Trump in charge, the rules might change.

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