Trump confirms plans to allow oil and gas drilling off most of the US coastline
President Trump has confirmed new plans to enable drilling activity off nearly all of the offshore coastline including protected regions within the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific areas.
The new five-year oil and gas program which would commence from 2019 would allow nearly 90% of the offshore continental shelf to be available for drilling activity. If this plan is to go ahead it would be the largest historical plan for the availability of lease sales for oil and gas companies.
The new plan includes 19 sites off the Alaskan coast, 7 within the Pacific, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and a further 9 within the Atlantic. The newly proposed plan is a stark contrast to the protective policies put in place by the previous Obama administration. The new program would permit drilling for the first time in the Atlantic region, a proposal that was strongly opposed by communities across the eastern region of the USA.
The Trump administration has indicated that they want to ensure the US offshore energy industry continues to grow and remain competitive with foreign regions. Trump believes these plans will give the US the strongest energy policies worldwide.
It comes as no surprise that the new drilling plans have raised many environmental concerns. The administration has emphasized that any drilling would be done in an ‘environmentally and sustainable manner’ and plans will include an exhaustive public involvement period. However, many members are very concerned about the prospect of increasing the number of oil rigs across the US region.
Many environmental groups have condemned the plans and even some senior Republicans oppose Trump's plan. The Republican governor of Florida has opposed any drilling off the coastline due to environmental concerns. These concerns are also echoed across other regions including California, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey, Virginia and both North and South Carolina.
Members opposing the plans have highlighted previous disasters with offshore exploration, voicing their concerns about increasing drilling activity and what impact it may have on the environment.
Critics suggest that the offshore drilling industry should be replaced with cleaner, alternative sources of energy generation. Many Republicans, however, have highlighted how increasing drilling activity will drive economic activity, increase offshore oil jobs available within the industry and generate revenue to rebuild the US coastline.