7 March 2018

Opposition mounts to Trump’s plan to drastically expand oil and gas drilling

A coalition of US environmental groups is urging people to oppose the White House’s latest plan to massively expand oil and gas exploration in federal waters.

The US Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, announced the decision in January to open up over 90 percent of the waters around the US coast - from Alaska to Florida - for drilling.

The group, which includes the Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, Oceana, and 10 others, claim that 1.35 million comments have already been submitted in opposition.

President Trump’s new five year plan will last from 2019-2024, and opens up parts of the US which were previously off limits to developers. Whereas the previous administration, under President Obama, allowed lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico, Trump is proposing opening up the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic waters as well.

The decision is a reversal of an order Obama issued just before leaving office.

Franz Matzner, director of Federal Affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, commented on the high level of response to the plan: "The Trump Administration's drilling proposal is reckless and backward-looking—and this massive public outcry shows the American people are not buying it. Our future is in clean energy jobs, not dirty, climate-wrecking fossil fuel production”

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates the Outer Continental Shelf area contains 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Announcing the move in January, Secretary Zinke stated that “responsibly developing our energy resources on the Outer Continental Shelf in a safe and well-regulated way is important to our economy and energy security, and it provides billions of dollars to fund the conservation of our coastlines, public lands and parks”.

Mary Sweeters, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, responded: "The public, and even most governors of coastal states, strongly oppose Trump's offshore drilling plan. Expanding offshore drilling will accelerate the effects of climate change and endanger thousands of coastal communities. We should be transitioning away from toxic, risky fossil fuels, not doubling down on our addiction to them".

The deadline for comments on the plan is this Friday 9th March.


Photo Credit: Agência Brasil

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