January 20, 2018

Trump Faces Opposition in Florida Over Offshore Drilling

13 January 2018, 03:56 | Taylor George

Trump Wants To Open Nearly All Offshore Waters To Oil Drilling, And Governors Are Not Having It

Offshore oil rig near Santa Barbara

Some questions and answers about the administration's plan, the most expansive offshore drilling proposal in decades, and what it could mean for USA energy production.

While the oil and gas industry cheered, analysts and even some industry representatives cautioned that the plan's signal may not immediately boost offshore development.

The plan proposes for "responsibly developing the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) for 2019-2024, which proposes to make over 90 percent of the total OCS acreage and more than 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available to consider for future exploration and development". This includes areas where drilling has been blocked for decades.

The plan is unprecedented in its scope.

The program also proposes the largest number of lease sales in US history for the National OCS Program's 5-year lease schedule. With President Trump, we will be the strongest superpower because we have the means, "he said". He also noted it was a draft proposal that could change after public input.

The Trump administration said Thursday it wants to open almost the entire U.S. coastline to oil and gas drilling, reversing an Obama era policy and drawing swift criticism from coastal governors and environmental groups.

The Obama administration considered a five-year plan to permit drilling in the southern Atlantic between Virginia and Georgia but abandoned it in March 2016 because of concerns raised by the Navy, which conducts military exercises in a vast area of the ocean near those states. More problematic will be NIMBYism in North Carolina and Florida, two states that the Republicans need to retain in their corner if they expect to keep winning national elections.

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott, left, a close ally of President Trump, opposes the president's plan to allow drilling off Florida's coast. Ed Markey, Florida Sen.

The new five-year drilling plan could also open new areas of oil and gas exploration in areas off the East Coast from Florida to ME, where drilling has been blocked for decades. Sales are planned in OR and Washington in 2021. "Yet the Trump administration is racing forward with its increasingly brazen attempts to loot our environment and our planet", House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

The congressman led a bipartisan letter to Zinke in May asking that the administration maintain the status quo on regions now off-limits to drilling, citing in part the 1969 Santa Barbara blowout that coated 35 miles of shoreline in oil and killed 3,700 seabirds along with an untold number of fish and marine mammals. But it's not yet certain whether drillers have much interest in dipping their toes into uncharted waters.

Currently, the US produces about 15 percent of its oil offshore, mostly from the Gulf of Mexico.

Remember the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the largest marine oil spill in history, killing 11 workers and releasing 4 million barrels of oil into Gulf of Mexico, causing $17 billion in damages to natural resources.

"These ocean waters are not President Trump's personal playground", the coalition said a statement.

"This is a start on looking at American energy dominance and looking at our offshore assets and beginning a dialog of when, how, where and how fast those offshore assets could be or should be developed", Zinke said in a conference call with reporters. He added that the USA has restricted offshore exploration as other countries including Canada and Mexico have stepped up their coastal activities. Some petroleum geologists examining the location of continents before they drifted apart point to discoveries and development in other parts of the Atlantic Ocean as illustrating potential oil deposits along the U.S. East Coast.

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