President Donald Trump repeatedly said on his campaign trail that the U.S. needs to become much less dependent on energy from other countries. His administration has proposed a plan to do just that and expand offshore areas of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling by 90%.
This is the largest expansion of offshore drilling ever proposed.
“This is a start (of) American energy dominance,” said Ryan Zinke, Interior Secretary on Thursday. “And looking at our offshore assets, beginning a dialogue of when, how, where and how fast those offshore assets should be or could be developed."
Environmentalists have already started to criticize and denounce the plan.
“President Trump is once again defying a majority of American citizens, states, and businesses,” tweeted Al Gore, the former vice president. “His offshore drilling proposal threatens our coastal communities, just to prop up a dying fossil fuel industry.”
Critics called the drilling risky and argued that it would have a detrimental impact on the environment.
“The Trump administration’s dramatic expansion of offshore oil drilling is beyond reckless,” said Alex Taurel, deputy legislative director at the League of Conservation Voters. “Seaside communities, businesses, and elected officials from both parties have consistently opposed risky offshore drilling because of the grave threat it poses to their way of life, our climate, and local economies that rely on tourism and fishing.”
Florida Republican leaders have expressed concern over the plan and how close the drilling will be to the state.
“I have already asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also said in a statement that he asked Zinke "to recognize the Florida Congressional delegation’s bipartisan efforts to maintain and extend the moratorium in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and remove this area for future planning purposes."
Zinke pointed out that during President Barack Obama’s time, America became too reliant on foreign oil and it’s time for that to change.
“This is a clear difference between energy weakness and energy dominance,” said Zinke. “And under President Trump, we’re going to have the strongest energy policy, and become the strongest energy superpower. And we certainly have the assets to do that.”
Proponents of the proposal argue that the economic growth will significant and will help the U.S. achieve long-term energy security.
“This new offshore leasing plan is an important step towards harnessing our nation’s energy potential for the benefit of American energy consumers,” said Erik Milito, the American Petroleum Institute’s director for upstream operations in a statement. “The ability to safely and responsibly access and explore our resources in the Arctic, Atlantic, Pacific and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico is a critical part of advancing the long-term energy security of the U.S. It will also encourage economic growth, spur manufacturing and investment, create thousands of additional U.S. jobs, and strengthen our national security.”
Karen Harbert, president of the Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute expressed similar sentiments.
“The administration’s draft proposed program unlocks the vast potential of American energy and expands our ability to export oil and gas to our allies around the world,” said Harbert. “The plan announced today is a long term commitment to securing our energy future, and would help cement America’s role as an energy superpower, creating jobs and contributing to our economy.”
The proposed plan will include 47 auctions for drilling rights between 2019 and 2023.
Specifically, “the draft plan released Thursday includes 25 of 26 offshore planning areas and makes available for lease roughly 90 percent of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The administration has identified 47 potential lease sales, including 19 off the coast of Alaska and 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, Zinke told reporters Thursday,” writes the Huffington Post.
“We’re going to become the strongest energy superpower,” said Zinke. “We certainly have the assets to do that.”
Author’s note: This is all part of his energy plan, it puts us in a better negotiating position with OPEC. Also, Trump is keeping yet another one of his campaign promises.