Long road ahead for Trump offshore drilling order

Caroline Beck
May 4, 2017

To the dismay of many Californians, President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that could allow for new oil and gas drilling off the California Coast.

Trump signed an executive order calling for the review during a ceremony at the White House.

"We need smart, tough standards to ensure that energy companies are not operating out of control", she said, adding: "In their absence, America's future promises more oil spills and industrialized coastlines".

According to the governor, the previous administration (2009-2017) closed access to the oil drilling in 94 percent of the continental shelf.

Weeks before leaving office, Obama banned new oil and gas drilling in federal waters in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, protecting 115 million acres (46.5 million hectares) of waters off Alaska and 3.8 million acres in the Atlantic from New England to the Chesapeake Bay.

Trump's executive order may undo a plan finalized late in the Obama Administration that aimed to limit fossil fuel development and fight climate change by blocking new drilling leases off the coasts of California and Alaska through 2022. It remains California's largest oil spill and ranks third in the US, behind the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill off the Gulf Coast and the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

The Interior Department oversees some 1.7 billion acres on the outer continental shelf, the submerged lands off the coasts of the US. Environmentalists say the section of law Obama used, known as 12-a, doesn't allow for a reversal.

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Both sides however vowed to keep up cooperation in the "fight against terror" in the future, it added. "And that's not what happened here".


Environmental groups excoriated the president in response - many, like Oceana, fear a repeat of the BP oil spill.

Monuments created during those years range from President Obama's designation of the 5,000-square-mile Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the New England coast in 2016 to President George W. Bush's early 2009 creation (and Obama's 2014 expansion) of the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument south and west of Hawaii - the largest marine protected area in the world. The longer the USA delays in acknowledging its Arctic resource potential, the more likely it will be that those opportunities will be endangered by other nations - such as Russian Federation - that are moving aggressively to develop. He called prevention of Atlantic drilling "a significant priority" as he looks to use expanded powers and resources the General Assembly recently awarded him to sue the Trump administration.

Zinke said that leases scheduled under the existing plan will remain in effect during the review, which he estimated will take several years.

"Every one of these orders is primarily aspirational. But if they start drilling for oil and gas, they have to transport it somewhere", she said.

But the plan faces opposition from the fishing industry, tourism groups and even the USA military, which has said Atlantic offshore drilling could hurt military maneuvers and interfere with missile tests needed to help protect the East Coast.

The Virginia Beach City Council also issued a memo against it.

Zinke said he has recently heard concerns about offshore drilling in Santa Barbara, California, and promised that he will listen to local communities when it comes to authorizing drilling.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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