Monday, 25 June, 2018

Trump Administration Plans To Open Up US Coasts For Drilling

California leaders vow to fight Trump expansion of offshore oil drilling Trump to open US waters for offshore oil drilling; a disaster for environment
Glenn Montgomery | 13 January, 2018, 03:59

The Trump administration moved Thursday to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans with a plan that would open up federal waters off California for the first time in more than three decades.

"This is a start on looking at American energy dominance and looking at our offshore assets and beginning a dialog of when, how, where and how fast those offshore assets could be or should be developed", Zinke said in a conference call with reporters. The proposal follows Trump's executive order in April encouraging more drilling rights in federal waters, part of the administration's strategy to help the USA achieve "energy dominance" in the global market. "Clean, reliable, abundant and affordable energy is what's driving our economy".

Nevertheless, Mr Zinke's announcement on Friday (AEDT) anticipated and attempted to appease the opposition of environmental groups.

Experts say that due to the long moratorium on outer continental shelf drilling, no one really knows how much oil there is and how expensive it is to produce.

The proposal comes less than a week after the Trump administration proposed to rewrite or kill rules on offshore oil and gas drilling imposed after the 2010 BP spill.

The Bureau of Ocean Management is now responsible for roughly 2,900 active OCS leases, which cover almost 15.3 million acres, most of which are in the Gulf of Mexico.

The amount of money per acre that oil companies spent in the Gulf in 2017 was about a third what they spent in 2013 when oil prices were higher, according to a Reuters review of government data.

The only region the Trump administration is ruling out now is the North Aleutian Planning Area in Alaska, which had been excluded from leasing by former President George W. Bush. Marine sanctuaries also would remain off limits. There hasn't been an offshore lease sale in federal waters off of OR or Washington since 1964.

It is a major increase from the 11 lease sales during the Obama administration.

Zinke said the revenue raised by the lease auctions would be invested in renovating national parks.

Trump's plan takes a wrecking ball to President Obama's environmental legacy. Trey Gowdy, who represents the Upstate, supports moving forward, though he still says it's "critical" to take precautions to protect the environment.

"Opening our fragile shores to dirty oil and gas development is a risky idea that puts marine life and coastal communities at risk and contributes to the present and ever-growing impacts of climate change". "People in Chesapeake Bay region can't afford that possibility and neither can cities along the California coasts". But a bipartisan array of governors from coastal states - including California Democrat Jerry Brown and Florida Republican Rick Scott - see offshore drilling as having a huge potential downside and want no part of it.

Oil spills are bad and are usually caused by human stupidity or incompetence.

"We've never had this type of active, deep conflict between the state and federal governments", Hecht said.

"Whether you are for or against offshore drilling, I think we could all agree that locals should have some degree of voice on what happens in their backyard". We'll fight them in Congress, on the beaches, in the courts and at the ballot box. Scott said he requested a meeting with Zinke to "discuss the concerns I have with this plan". It failed past year, but now the need is critical. Coal production has ticked up sightly, largely due to a rise in exports.

But while industry groups applauded the announcement, new offshore drilling in these areas is unlikely to occur anytime soon and some have commented that this is a largely symbolic announcement (or even "grandstanding"). Citing the disappointing results from an exploratory well in 2015, and challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment, Shell abandoned drilling in U.S. Arctic waters.

That kind of production is attractive in today's unpredictable oil market, where USA crude fell from more than $100 a barrel in 2014 to a low of $26 in 2016 before bouncing around the $40 to $60 range past year.

On an annual basis, the U.S. consumes approximately 25 percent of the world's petroleum, while producing only 6 percent.

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