Trump moves to vastly expand offshore drilling – Business

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

The new five-year drilling plan also could open new areas of oil and gas exploration in areas off the East Coast from Georgia to Maine, where drilling has been blocked for decades. Many lawmakers in those states support offshore drilling, although the Democratic governors of North Carolina and Virginia oppose drilling off their state coasts.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, also opposes offshore drilling near his state, as do the three Democratic governors on the West Coast.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the plan Thursday, saying that responsible development of offshore energy resources would boost jobs and economic security while providing billions of dollars to fund conservation along U.S. coastlines.

“This is a draft program,” Zinke said in a conference call with reporters. “Nothing is final yet, and our department is continuing to engage the American people to get to our final product.”

Most expansive proposal in decades

Industry groups praised the announcement, which would be the most expansive offshore drilling proposal in decades. The proposal follows President Donald Trump’s executive order in April encouraging more drilling rights in federal waters, part of the administration’s strategy to help the U.S. achieve “energy dominance” in the global market.

A coalition of more than 60 environmental groups denounced the plan, saying in a joint statement that it would impose “severe and unacceptable harm” to America’s oceans, coastal economies, public health and marine life.

“These ocean waters are not President Trump’s personal playground. They belong to all Americans and the public wants them preserved and protected, not sold off to multinational oil companies,” read the statement, which was signed by leaders of the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defence Council, League of Conservation Voters and other environmental groups.

“This extreme proposal is a shameful giveaway” to the oil and gas industry, which supported Trump in the election campaign, the groups said.

Administration wants to roll back rules

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 deadly 2010 rig explosion and oil…

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