The latest announcement from the Trump Administration about the future of offshore drilling industry across the U.S. as changes are made to the initial five-year plan created by President Obama. In the first announcement since President Trump announced a major expansion of the offshore drilling plans initially thought to include similar limitations of drilling off the Alaskan coast, and the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines; the Trump Administration has basically opened up the entire U.S. coastline to the oil and gas industry with a plan to auction drilling leases for around 47 sites from 2019 to 2024.
The plan is in its early stages and was announced by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to follow through on a campaign promise of President Trump which would allow greater oil and gas exploration off the U.S. coast. An initial plan has been released allowing drilling off almost all the U.S. coastline which will be made available to the public and lawmakers across the nation for consideration and public comments about the viability of the plan. The opposition is expected to be raised by many lawmakers from both sides of the political spectrum in the U.S. from states such as Florida, Maine, and California where environmental concerns and tourism issues are sure to be mentioned.
Changes to the energy program of the U.S. were first sought by President Trump in 2017 when he signed an Executive Order calling for a new plan to be devised to allow the U.S. to become an energy superpower of the 21st-century. Opponents to the plan include four Republican lawmakers who have already declared their opposition to offshore drilling off Alaska’s Arctic Coast and areas of Florida; the massive expansion of the offshore drilling program in the U.S. has also angered environmentalists who feel the program will have a major impact on the oceans surrounding the nation.
Many environmentalists have called the decision to expand the offshore drilling program of the U.S. government into formerly regulated waters as a giveaway to many of the major oil and gas organizations who backed the campaign of President Trump in 2016. Offshore drilling is currently banned by Federal law off the West Coast of Florida until 2022 with the plan from the Department of the Interior calling for drilling rights to begin being auctioned in this area in 2023.
The plan from President Obama which is currently in place had originally called for limited offshore drilling across portions of the Atlantic coastline and the Alaskan coast but this idea was abandoned in favor of limiting the drilling options off the Atlantic, Alaskan, and Pacific coastlines. Some areas will remain protected under the recently announced plan including Alaska’s Bristol Bay which was protected by Republican President George W. Bush and existing marine sanctuaries which will not be the site of offshore drilling leases.