President Donald Trump’s eraser is proving to be mightier than his predecessor’s pen. After jettisoning the Obama-era lax pot rules, his administration is looking to dump another Obama-era legacy by nixing the massive restrictions on offshore drilling.

The Trump administration unveiled a controversial proposal Thursday to permit drilling in most U.S. continental-shelf waters, including protected areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic, where oil and gas exploration is opposed by governors from New Jersey to Florida, nearly a dozen attorneys general, more than 100 U.S. lawmakers and the Defense Department.

Under the proposal, only one of 26 planning areas in the Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean would be off limits to oil and gas exploration, according to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. He said the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management has identified 47 potential areas where industry companies can buy leases between 2019 and 2024, when the proposed period would begin and end.

This announced permitting expansion program is still in draft form, so requesting a meeting with Zinke is a good idea at this early stage.

States, local communities, and congressional delegations will give input before the proposal becomes final in the coming months. The following tweet provides a map of the offshore areas currently proposed in the expansion.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke indicated that nearly all of the nation’s outer continental shelf is being considered for drilling, including areas off the coasts of Maine, California, Florida, and Alaska.

The proposal, which environmentalists immediately panned as an environmental disaster and giveaway to the fossil fuel industry, is far larger than what was envisioned in President Trump’s executive order last year seeking a new plan for the future of auctions of offshore drilling rights. That order asked Zinke to consider drilling expansions in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

“This is a start on looking at American energy dominance and looking at our offshore assets and beginning a dialogue of when, how, where and how fast those offshore assets should be, or could be, developed,” Zinke told reporters Thursday.

He contrasted it with former President Barack Obama’s most recent five-year plan for offshore drilling lease sales, which had no drilling around Alaska or in the Pacific or Atlantic oceans.

The green justice warriors are responding with the typical rhetoric, hyperbole, and predictions of doom.

“These ocean waters are not President Trump’s personal playground. They belong to all Americans and the public wants them preserved and protected, not sold off to multinational oil companies,” read the coalition’s statement, which was signed by leaders of the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters and other environmental groups.

Being a Californian, perhaps my favorite theory on this move is this one:

I doubt that this move is payback for California’s #WarOnTrump, but it would be delicious if it were.

I say, “Drill, baby, drill.”


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.