Updated Jan 4, 2018 4:24 PM EST
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is moving to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans, including opening up federal waters off the coast of California for the first time in more than three decades. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday announced a proposal to make over 90 percent of the total outer continental shelf (OCS) acreage and over 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available for future exploration and development.
Zinke’s proposal ends a sweeping Obama-era ban that decreed most of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean would be indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing. Currently, some 94 percent of the OCS is off limits to drilling.
The new five-year drilling plan would open new areas of oil and gas exploration off the East Coast in places 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. It’s not just Democrats, though, who have raised objections. Trump supporter and Florida Governor Rick Scott also opposes offshore drilling for his state, and he has requested a meeting with Zinke to discuss the drilling plan and “the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration,” he said in a statement.
This is the most expansive offshore drilling proposal in decades and comes in after President Trump’sencouraging more drilling rights in federal waters.
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