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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | Santa Cruz Indymedia | U.S. | Environment & Forest Defense
Trump Offshore Oil Leasing Plan Threatens Every U.S. Ocean, Coastline
Launch of New Nationwide Offshore Leasing Program Could Expand Drilling Into Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, Eastern Gulf of Mexico
WASHINGTON, June 29, 2017 — The federal government today announced it will ask the oil industry where it wants to drill to meet President Trump’s call to expand offshore oil and gas development. This request for information will launch the process of creating a new nationwide offshore leasing plan that could open all U.S. waters to dangerous drilling, replacing an existing plan that protects the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.
“Trump just planted a big ‘for sale’ sign in America’s oceans. But oil executives who think they’ll have a free pass to drill at will need to know that coastal communities are fighting back,” said Kristen Monsell, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Selling off our seas for short-term profits is a bad deal for Americans, wildlife and our changing climate.”
Today’s action comes in response to Trump’s April 28 executive order to expand offshore drilling. It puts every ocean at risk, even the Pacific, which hasn’t seen a lease sale in federal waters since 1984. The request for information issued by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will ask companies to propose areas for offshore oil development, even if those waters are currently off limits.
The Bureau will hold a comment period on the request to inform a new proposal to replace Obama’s 2017-2022 offshore oil and gas program. The Obama administration’s draft plan initially included 10 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico, and one lease sale each in Alaska’s Cook Inlet, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The final plan only included the lease sales in the Gulf and Cook Inlet. The Arctic and Atlantic were removed from the final plan due to the significant risks to wildlife and sensitive areas, widespread public opposition and conflicts with military use.
Following issuance of the final plan, President Obama permanently protected most of the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic from future oil and gas leasing using his authority under Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Trump’s April 28 order attempted to reverse those permanent protections, but the Center and other groups challenged that order with a lawsuit on May 3. That lawsuit is pending in federal court in Alaska.
“Trump’s appalling actions threaten every ocean and coastline in the country,” Monsell said. “We’ll be fighting tooth and nail to make sure his disgraceful administration doesn’t endanger polar bears, whales, local economies and our climate with more dirty drilling.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.