Prospects for new executive order are unclear and legal challenges await
Donald Trump’s retro administration is taking another step backward by attempting to re-open parts of the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans, as well as the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, for offshore oil drilling. The executive order announced by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke requires the the department to conduct a five-year review of the existing program for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf.
That could potentially reverse actions taken under President Obama to restrict some offshore drilling, although the feds will have to show scientifically that new offshore drilling is justified economically and can be done without harm to the environment. Legal challenges would also raised to any new proposals to lease areas off the coasts of the U.S. More drilling would also add more heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution to the atmosphere.
Conservation groups reacted with dismay and vowed to fight against efforts to permit new offshore drilling. The move is especially disappointing because the last few years have seen a growing consensus among coastal communities along the Eastern Seaboard that they don’t want offshore drilling.
Oceana vice president Jacqueline Savitz had this to say: “Seven years, almost to the day, after offshore drilling caused the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, President Trump is taking aim at expanding this dirty and dangerous industry into new areas like the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans, as well as the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Let me be clear: that would be a huge, bad, stupid mistake. I doubt President Trump would want to see Mar-a-Lago, or any of his other coastal resorts, covered in oil … As of today, more than 120 East Coast municipalities, over 1,200 elected officials, and an alliance representing over 35,000 coastal businesses, including resort and restaurant owners, and others that depend on healthy oceans, have publicly opposed offshore drilling activities.
Coastal business leaders oppose offshore drilling in the Atlantic because it’s a job killer, not a job creator. From the industrialization of coastal communities, to the risk of a BP Deepwater Horizon-like oil disaster, offshore drilling would forever change the fabric of the American Atlantic, threatening thriving coastal economies and lucrative industries like tourism, recreation and fishing. Other energy ventures like offshore wind promise to create many more jobs, without threatening to coat our coastlines with oil.”