Trump Administration Unveils Plan to Lift Ban on Offshore Drilling

Small oil spills happen so often in the heavily drilled Gulf of Mexico that they rarely even make the news. About 21,000 gallons spilled from an abandoned pipeline.

On Thursday, the Trump administration released a proposal to open for exploration the largest expanse of the nation's offshore oil and natural gas reserves ever offered to global energy companies.

The program will run from 2019 to 2024 and includes 50 lease sales to oil companies in 26 areas, including some that were protected under the Obama Administration.

The latest move, which aims to fulfill Trump's promise to expand domestic energy production, has raised a large wave of opposition from environmentalists, state officials and business groups. "Nothing is final", Zinke said in remarks at a news conference.

In conjunction with the announcement of the DPP, the Department is also publishing a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

"Nobody is better at producing clean, quality, responsible energy than the U.S.", Zinke said. He said it was a clear departure from the Obama administration's effort to protect areas rather than exploit them. He vowed that the Trump administration would heed environmental safeguards.

If approved, the plan would open up oceans that have largely been off limits to oil drilling, including areas in the Arctic and Atlantic where Trump is trying to revoke permanent protections. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it "another federal assault on our environment" while California Gov.

The Republican governors of Maryland, South Carolina and Florida oppose offshore drilling.

The Democratic governors of North Carolina and DE are also opposed. There will also be a 60-day comment period. "In fact, in the central Gulf of Mexico planning area, 36 percent of leases are in military planning areas".

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Yet such obvious lessons are ignored in Trump's reckless pursuit of so-called "energy dominance". The accident on BP's Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and triggered the biggest offshore oil spill in US history.

"The Deepwater Horizon accident proved definitively that offshore drilling has the potential to ravage our state's ecosystems and economy", Demings said. Dolphins in Barataria, La., have experienced mortality rates 8 percent higher than dolphin populations elsewhere, and their reproduction success dropped 63 percent.

It comes just after Interior issued a stop-work order on a National Academy of Sciences study reviewing the offshore oil and gas operations inspection program to enhance safety.

"Nothing is final yet, and our department is continuing to engage the American people to get to our final product", Mr Zinke said.

Even on its best days, offshore drilling is dirty and risky.

The United States is poised to unveil a proposed programme for auctioning oil and gas drilling rights in the Arctic Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and possibly the Pacific Ocean, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, said in a statement Thursday that he would fight to prevent drilling off Florida's Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Santa Monica-based public-advocacy group Consumer Watchdog called on Brown to send a message to Washington by immediately cut off drilling in state waters being done under existing leases within three miles of shore.

Drilling also has supporters, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). "With this program, my constituents. whose jobs depend on the energy industry can rest easy knowing that oil and gas development is a priority for this administration", Scalise said.

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