April 26, 2018

Trump Plans to Open 90% of Offshore Land to Drilling

06 January 2018, 12:59 | Lionel James

California has vast offshore oil and gas resources. Jerry Brown and scores of environmentalists.

"As the Department of Interior works to finalize their draft plan, I urge Secretary Zinke to recognize the Florida Congressional delegation's bipartisan efforts to maintain and extend the moratorium in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and remove this area for future planning purposes". The plan would also allow drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska.

Deepwater output in the Gulf could climb to 1.9 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2018, a 13 percent increase above previous year and 10 percent higher than the last peak in 2009, energy research firm Wood Mackenzie said in a new report this week.

But the plan, which Zinke described as an opening proposal in what is likely to be a long negotiation, prompted swift disapproval - including from several Republicans representing coastal states.

"It should be underscored that regulatory agencies in our state will have a say in whether any offshore drilling ultimately does occur, "Becerra added".

It would be the first West Coast oil lease sale since the 1980s, but that doesn't mean it's a done deal. "For more than 30 years, our shared coastline has been protected from further federal drilling, and we'll do whatever it takes to stop this reckless, shortsighted action".

Sen. Kamala Harris called it "an incredibly harmful move." Sen.

"My understanding is that there will be public meetings at each state capital where this will be proposed", said state Sen.

The announcement was met with immediate concern from environmental groups and from Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who released a statement in the middle of Zinke's announcement Thursday afternoon asking to have waters off Florida's coastline removed from consideration.

California in particular has been sensitive about offshore oil drilling since 100,000 barrels of oil spilled off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969, an environmental disaster that killed thousands of birds and fish and helped launch the modern environmental movement.

Oil spills are bad and are usually caused by human stupidity or incompetence. In late 2016, Brown called for a permanent prohibition on new drilling off the shore of the state.

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New offshore development requires major infrastructure development, and also bears considerable risks of political pushback and lawsuits in many coastal states.

The state can object "but it's not an absolute veto", said Richard Frank, an environmental law professor at UC Davis.

Many other California cities and counties followed suit, including Sonoma, San Mateo, Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties.

"They have to jump through a lot of different hoops", he said. Nearly all of that was produced inland, in Kern County and parts of Southern California, but the state's offshore platforms still produced about 11 million barrels, mainly off the coasts of Santa Barbara and Long Beach. In a joint statement Thursday, California Gov.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the plan, saying that responsible development of offshore energy resources would boost jobs and economic security while providing billions of dollars to fund conservation along US coastlines. As things stand now, 94 percent of those resources are off-limits, he said.

"They've chosen to forget the utter devastation of past offshore oil spills to wildlife and to the fishing, recreation and tourism industries in our states", the governors said.

The oil industry also welcomed the proposal.

Starting Monday, residents, organizations and public officials have 60 days to formally oppose the recent plan.

"The Deepwater Horizon accident proved definitively that offshore drilling has the potential to ravage our state's ecosystems and economy", Demings said.

In comments to the Department of the Interior, Chevron expressed interest in opening the Pacific Coast for leasing, but ranked Southern California as seventh on their priority list, after regions in the Gulf and Atlantic.

"Commercial fishermen can't lose another salmon season", he said.

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