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Trump Proposes To Open Nearly All US Waters To Offshore Drilling

The Trump administration on Thursday proposed the largest expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling in USA history, releasing a plan to allow new drilling off the coasts of Northern, Central and Southern California, along with most of the East Coast.

In a new five-year drilling plan it also calls for opening new areas of oil and gas exploration along the East Coast from Georgia to ME, where drilling has been blocked for decades. Both Trump and Zinke have celebrated American "energy dominance", and the president has vowed to unleash the "vast energy wealth" of the U.S. "With increased exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond, we will be able to create more jobs and continue to receive revenue sharing that's vital to rebuilding our coast". Obama later reversed course following an outcry from environmentalists, including in Maryland, concerned about the effect a spill would have on beaches and the fishing industry. The proposed plan to sell offshore drilling leases in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic over a five-year period was detailed Thursday. "Whether it means spills the size of Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf or just tar balls washing ashore as is the case along the California coast, drilling for oil is simply inconsistent with our Atlantic Coast economy".

The Center for Biological Diversity called the move "appalling" and said it "should be a call to action for everyone who wants to move past the dirty energy and politics of the past".

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

Industry groups praised the announcement, which begins months of public hearings and comments.

It's the most expansive offshore drilling proposal in decades and comes in response to President Donald Trump's executive order in April encouraging more drilling rights in federal waters. These 11 program areas consist of the Gulf of Alaska, Kodiak, Shumagin, Aleutian Arc, St. George Basin, Bowers Basin, Aleutian Basin, Navarin Basin, St. Matthew-Hall, Norton Basin, and Hope Basin.

"The waters off the mouth of the Chesapeake are as much a part of the bay system as all the fresh-water rivers that feed it", Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker said in a statement.

"These ocean waters are not President Trump's personal playground", read a statement signed by members of the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters and other environmental groups. "In fact, in the central Gulf of Mexico planning area, 36 percent of leases are in military planning areas".

The Gulf of Mexico and its coastline still haven't recovered from 2010's Deepwater Horizon blowout, which killed 11 workers and thousands of marine animals as it gushed more than 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf for nearly three months. Once the Trump administration formally releases the plan, the public will have an opportunity to comment.

Environmental groups say oil exploration and development would only increase the risk of another risky spill. He said it was a clear departure from the Obama administration's effort to protect areas rather than exploit them. The rules require more frequent inspections of those and other devices and dictate that experts onshore monitor drilling of highly complex wells in real time.

Even on its best days, offshore drilling is dirty and unsafe. "Will we allow Florida's white beaches or the popular and pristine Outer Banks to share a similar fate?" One of those areas is off the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

Zinke's announcement "ignores widespread and bipartisan opposition to offshore drilling", including from more than 150 municipalities nationwide and 1,200 local, state and federal officials, Hoskins said.

Energy Secretary Ryan Zinke said the administration wants to make 90 percent of the national outer continental shelf available for oil and gas drilling. "We still remember the horror of the 1969 Santa Barbara spill, when an offshore rig leaked more than 100,000 barrels".

Gov. Jerry Brown was quick to condemn the proposal, issuing a joint statement with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee calling the idea a reckless threat to the coastal environment.



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