Trump Administration Announces Plans to Open Nearly All U.S. Waters to Offshore Drilling

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Today, the Trump administration announced its plans to open nearly all U.S. federal waters to offshore drilling activities. In a new draft five-year program (2019-2024) for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), the Department of the Interior (DOI) outlined its plans to expand future oil and gas leasing to the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans, as well as the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This is the largest number of potential offshore lease sales ever proposed.

In response to the newly proposed plan, Oceana campaign director Diane Hoskins released the following statement:

“This plan opens the floodgates to dirty and dangerous offshore drilling, threatening coastal economies that rely on clean and healthy oceans.

This radical offshore drilling free-for-all is a clear example of politics over people, ignoring widespread local and state opposition. Consider the West Coast, where all three governors are adamantly opposed to expanded offshore drilling. Or the Atlantic, where over 140 East Coast municipalities have publicly opposed offshore drilling activities. Along Florida’s Gulf Coast, there is a moratorium on offshore drilling until June 30, 2022, and the Department of Defense (DOD) has made it clear they need uninhibited access to the area for training, free from oil and gas activities.

Past attempts to drill in the remote and unforgiving Arctic waters resulted in the abandoned drill rig Kulluk grounded near Kodiak Island while the crew were hoisted to safety. There is still extreme weather, no way to clean up an oil spill in sea ice, and very limited infrastructure to deal with any kind of emergency.

The Trump administration’s plan not only ignores the risky nature of dirty and dangerous drilling, but also the people and coastal businesses who would be most affected. The administration’s proposal would put large multi-national corporations ahead of coastal residents and healthy ocean-dependent economies.

Americans have seen the devastation that comes from offshore drilling. Seven years after the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout, the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, the Gulf is still recovering. Will we allow Florida’s white beaches or the popular and pristine Outer Banks to share a similar fate? What about the scenic Pacific coast or even remote Arctic waters?

Giving the oil industry unfettered access to our nation’s oceans is a recipe for disaster. From ocean views scattered with drilling platforms, to the industrialization of our coastal communities, to the unacceptable risk of more BP Deepwater Horizon-like disasters – expanding offshore drilling to new areas threatens thriving coastal economies and already thriving industries like tourism, recreation and fishing that rely on healthy oceans. According to the National Ocean Economics Program’s 2016 report, in U.S. coastal states, 2.2 million American jobs and $108.37 billion in GDP depend on healthy ocean ecosystems.

It’s time for Washington to listen to the communities that have the most to lose and nothing to gain from dirty and dangerous offshore drilling. Secretary Zinke needs to protect our coast, not sell it out to the highest bidder.”

As of today, opposition and concern over offshore drilling activities includes:

  • Governors of Florida, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon and Washington

  • More than 150 East and West Coast municipalities

  • Over 1,200 local, state and federal bipartisan officials

  • An alliance representing over 41,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families

  • The North, South and Mid-Atlantic fishery management councils

  • Commercial and recreational fishing interests such as the Southeastern Fisheries Association, Fisheries Survival Fund, Southern Shrimp Alliance, The Billfish Foundation and the International Game Fish Association

  • California Fish and Game Commission, California Coastal Commission, California State Lands Commission and California Senate

  • DOD and the Florida Defense Support Task Force

Today’s draft plan is the result of President Trump’s April 28 executive order on offshore energy, which directed DOI to encourage offshore drilling. The public has 60-days to comment on the draft proposed program, which is the first of two opportunities for public comment on the plan.

To learn more about Oceana’s campaign to stop the expansion of offshore drilling activities, Please Click Here.

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