Trump Plans to Open 90% of Offshore Land to Drilling

'Beyond reckless,' says one environmentalist
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2018 2:18 PM CST
Trump Plans to Open 90% of Offshore Land to Drilling
This May 1, 2009 photo shows the offshore oil drilling platform "Gail," operated by Venoco, Inc., off the coast near Santa Barbara, Calif.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

In a move environmental groups are calling "absolutely radical" and "beyond reckless," the Trump administration is planning the largest sale on leases for offshore drilling in US history. CNBC reports the proposal, announced Thursday by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, would open 90% of the US' outer continental shelf—off both coasts and Alaska—to oil drilling. It overturns an Obama-era plan that would have allowed drilling in only 6% of the same area, according to the Wall Street Journal. The only area spared from possible drilling under the five-year plan, which would begin in 2019, is the North Aleutians Basin in Alaska. Zinke says the goal is "to become the strongest energy super power" in the world.

The plan is already facing opposition from environmentalists, tourism groups, and even some Republicans. The deputy legislative director at the League of Conservation Voters says the plan poses a "grave threat" to seaside communities, the climate, and local economies, the Hill reports. And a campaign director at Oceana says there is "widespread" opposition at the local level to drilling expansion. Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he will fight to stop drilling off the coast of his state. The plan still faces a year or so of public comments and revisions, during which time areas can be removed from consideration for drilling. The plan could also be taken to court as it overturns bans on drilling in the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic enacted by the Obama administration. (More offshore drilling stories.)

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