Long road ahead for Trump offshore drilling order

Posted May 07, 2017

The order, announced Thursday, instructs Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke to review two measures put into place by former President Barack Obama that banned operations in parts of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans for five years, as well as an indefinite block on drilling in parts of the Arctic Ocean and other sections of the Atlantic.

President Donald Trump's executive order seeking to find new ocean expanses in the Atlantic and the Arctic for offshore drilling is unlikely to reach its goals anytime soon, but instead will kick off a yearslong review and a legal battle.

Gulf Economic Survival Team Executive Director Lori LeBlanc called the move a "positive first step" for the oil and gas industry toward job creation and boosting the national economy.

Late last year, the Obama administration implemented a five-year plan that banned offshore drilling in parts of the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

The White House says 90 billion barrels of oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are buried off the USA coastline, but 94 percent of the area is off limits.

"Our country's blessed with incredible natural resources, including abundant offshore oil and natural gas reserves, but the federal government has kept 94 percent of these offshore areas closed for exploration and production", the president said before journalists in the White House.

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US oil production has boomed in recent years, primarily because of improved drilling techniques such as fracking that have opened up production in areas previously out of reach of drillers. "It reverses the previous administration's Arctic leasing ban". "If President Trump had his way, Earth Day would [become] Drill the Earth Day". They claim it amounts to permanent protection.

Zinke repeatedly cast the decision to review offshore drilling plans as critical to national security and the economy, saying it will provide access to reliable energy produced in the United States instead of in a foreign country.

According to USA Today, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is also "directed to review all designations and expansions of marine monuments or sanctuaries designated under the Antiquities Act within the last 10 years". Dianne Feinstein said to the LA Times.

The order could lead to the opening of oil and gas exploration areas off Virginia and North and SC, where drilling has been blocked for decades.

Zinke said he believes that reducing regulations, in combination with the President's March 28 order on energy independence, will "put us on track for American energy independence". "We can not afford another disastrous oil spill", Congressman Salud Carbajal said, adding that California's coastal region generates over $1.9 trillion per year in GDP.

On Wednesday, Trump called for a review of wilderness areas that were declared national monuments over the past 20 years, an order with the goal of possibly opening up these areas to oil drilling and mining.