The waters of the United States will be soon open for offshore drilling, the Trump administration has announced.
The New York Times reports that the administration’s plan would make most coastal areas — including Pacific waters near California, Atlantic waters near Maine and the eastern Gulf of Mexico — available for fossil fuel exploration and extraction, in a bid to revive the domestic energy industry.
In April President Trump signed an executive order to overturn the Obama-era offshore drilling plan, which was intended to stop new leases in areas of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. That measure, Trump said, “deprives our country of potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth.” Now, the day of oil rigs peppering America’s coasts is getting ever closer.
Trump’s new five-year plan would give the green light to 47 auctions for drilling rights off nearly every U.S. coast. This includes 19 potential lease sales off the coast of Alaska, seven in the Pacific region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and nine in the Atlantic region, according to a Think Progress report. This is the largest number of lease sales ever proposed, according to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.
As he unveiled the plan, Zinke said: “We’re embarking on a new path for energy dominance in America, particularly on offshore. This is a clear difference between energy weakness and energy dominance. We are going to become the strongest energy superpower.”
The measure was met with enthusiastic approval by the leaders of the fossil fuel industry. As reported by the New York Times, Thomas J. Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, said: “These are our lands. They’re taxpayer-owned and they should be made available.”
But environmental organizations all over the country are up in arms over the project. Kate Addleson, director of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club said in a statement:
“This plan was hastily concocted, has no basis in science, employs faulty economics and blatantly disregards the flood of public opinion that strongly opposes opening the Atlantic Ocean to risky, dirty and unnecessary offshore drilling.”
Opposition is also expected from a number of governors on both sides of the political aisle who fear for the safety of their states’ coastlines.