Zinke Adds Oceans to the Chopping Block

The Interior Secretary released a new five-year plan opening up 90 percent of federal waters to offshore oil and gas drilling.

In late April, President Trump issued an executive order promoting oil and gas drilling off America’s coasts—and today, in response, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke unveiled a five-year leasing plan that opens nearly all our federal waters—more than 100 million acres—to dangerous development.

“This backward-looking plan puts oil and gas profits first and places our coastal communities and all they support at risk of the next BP-style disaster,” Rhea Suh, NRDC’s president, said.

Zinke’s plan is intended to replace the five-year plan President Obama issued weeks before he left office—one that had made the Arctic and Atlantic oceans off-limits to drilling through 2022. The Obama administration's plan was finalized after an exhaustive, multiyear process, including the submission of more than 1.4 million comments from the public.

The Trump administration has touted its push to allow offshore drilling as part of a strategy—a reckless one—to create jobs and make the United States a leader in energy production. But the reality is that oil prices are plummeting, and interest in offshore drilling is dropping along with them. Opening our fragile shores to dirty oil and gas development is a dangerous idea that puts marine life and coastal communities at risk and contributes to the present and ever-growing impacts of climate change. 

“We won’t sacrifice our marine life, ocean habitat, and local economies to Trump’s big polluter play,” Suh said. “We’ll stand with leaders of vision, business owners, and fishing families on every coast to protect our oceans and shores.”

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