Trump administration suspends offshore oil and gas drilling plans

April 26, 2019 | Environment
Offshore drilling: a month of fishing and beach closures due to an oil spill has huge costs | Photo: BSEE/Creative Commons

Trump administration's plan for expanding federal offshore oil and gas leasing is on hold indefinitely.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told the Wall Street Journal that the proposal to expand offshore oil and gas drilling has been sidelined for an indefinite period of time.

This follows a recent court ruling that upholds protections in the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic from new offshore drilling.

"Offshore drilling is a dangerous and dirty practice that puts our marine environment, coastal communities and local economies at unnecessary risk," notes Pete Stauffer, environmental director at Surfrider Foundation.

"But offshore drilling is also wildly unpopular across the country. Members of both political parties have overwhelmingly opposed new oil and gas development off our coasts."

Actually, more than 350 municipalities, 2,100 elected officials, 49,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families have opposed new offshore oil and gas development.

Nearly all coastal governors and more than 150 Democrat and Republican members of Congress have opposed the federal administration's plans to expand offshore drilling through a revised five-year program.

Florida, California, New Jersey, and Oregon have also recently banned nearshore oil and gas exploration in state waters off their shores.

"This delay in releasing the offshore drilling plan is the result of the hard work of coastal advocates, elected officials, businesses, communities, and the recreation industry," adds Stauffer.

"They have fought tirelessly against opening up our nation's coastlines to destructive offshore drilling."

Wind power: a single average-sized offshore wind farm could add $3.6 billion to the states in 2022 | Photo: E2

Just Cancel It

The Surfrider Foundation has called on the Trump administration to officially cancel plans to revise the five-year offshore drilling program.

National, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) is also against the government's energy strategy.

The organization stresses that building just a single average-sized offshore wind farm (352 MW) off five Atlantic coast states would could create more than 25,000 jobs and add $3.6 billion to the states' economies in 2022 - while just a month of fishing and beach closures due to an oil spill would cost the states over $2.7 billion in GDP and $1.3 billion in lost wages.

"The administration's drilling plan should be scrapped permanently. Exposing coastal communities to the economic and environmental costs of offshore drilling was never worth it," says Grant Carlisle, director at E2.

"This is a chance for the Trump administration to focus on expanding America's offshore wind developments that can generate tens of thousands of new jobs and attract new investments without the risk."

Tragic Background Stories

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in an estimated $65 billion in damages and was responsible for nearly seven months of fishing closures.

The 1969 Santa Barbara offshore oil disaster spewed oil into the Pacific at a rate of 1,000 gallons per hour for a month, causing billions in losses along California's beaches and fishing grounds.

Four decades later, the 2015 Refugio oil spill near Santa Barbara shut down campgrounds and beaches for two months and sent tar balls as far as 100 miles south, costing nearly $100 million in cleanup alone.

The 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska cost $3.8 billion to clean up and caused $300 million in economic damage to commercial fishing.

There has never been a place in America where offshore drilling has occurred where there hasn't been an oil spill.

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