In December, I reported that the Trump administration was creating a new Five Year Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program plan—ignoring the huge amount of public input and time that went into the current plan which should have extended through 2022. It wasn’t a surprise that the administration wanted to hand over far more of our oceans to the oil industry, but they didn’t waste any time. Today Secretary Ryan Zinke released the proposal which is the most extreme offshore drilling plan that any administration has proposed, designed to exploit every last U.S. coast for the benefit of the oil industry. Essentially every state—from California to Washington and Alaska, and from Florida to Maine—is a potential industrial zone in this plan. The administration is proposing:
- 19 lease sales in Alaska (including 6 in the Arctic and 2 in Cook Inlet)
- 7 lease sales in the Pacific Ocean (beginning with one in Southern California in 2020 and then others to follow off Central and Northern CA and off Washington and Oregon)
- 9 lease sales in the Atlantic Ocean (beginning with 2 lease sales in the Mid and South Atlantic with multiple others to follow in those areas. This also will include two lease sales in the North Atlantic, including Georges Bank, and one in the Straits of Florida, off the Florida Keys)
- 12 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico, including two lease sales in the Eastern Gulf towards the end of the 5-year Program
This is by far the most extreme plan ever proposed. This move by the administration also blatantly ignores the huge amount of input from states, elected leaders and communities that have rejected seismic blasting and drilling off their coasts again and again. And most Americans oppose opening more coasts for energy of the past instead of moving towards a cleaner energy future.
And as if this didn’t risk economies, wildlife, livelihoods and coasts enough, the administration coupled this appalling plan with news that they would be rolling back the few offshore drilling safety regulations that currently exist. Following the Deepwater Horizon blowout, the Obama administration proposed new rules to reduce the likelihood of another disaster like that happening again. Those few safety measures will now be gone as this administration gives the oil industry the right to drill every coast, cheaply and with no safeguards.
It’s now up to all of us to let the administration know that we flatly oppose this giveaway to oil companies at the expense of our communities and ocean health. Stay tuned for more updates from NRDC experts on what this means and how you can make your voice heard. Start by telling the administration you oppose their efforts to drill all of our coasts.