The Trump Administration has unveiled its plan to open nearly all of the United States’ coastal waters to oil and gas drilling. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024 yesterday, which includes a proposal to open up more than 90 percent of the country’s continental shelf waters to future exploitation by oil and gas companies. The draft five-year plan also proposes the largest number of offshore oil and gas lease sales in U.S. history. “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,” said Secretary Zinke. “Today’s announcement lays out the options that are on the table and starts a lengthy and robust public comment period. Just like with mining, not all areas are appropriate for offshore drilling, and we will take that into consideration in the coming weeks.” The Obama Administration blocked drilling on about 94 percent of the outer continental shelf, but, in April 2017, Trump issued an executive order that called for a review of the 2017-2022 Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program finalized under Obama in favor of implementing Trump’s so-called “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy.” The draft five-year plan that has just been released by the Trump Administration’s Interior Department would open up 25 of 26 outer…
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