In 2016, President Trump campaigned on rescinding Obama-era environmental regulations that he claimed were suffocating the United States economy. One year into his term, it’s abundantly clear he wasn’t bluffing.
Today, the Trump administration announced a proposal to allow offshore oil and gas drilling in virtually all US waters, including off California for the first time in decades. The proposal lifts President Obama’s ban on offshore drilling in an effort to find "a new path for energy dominance in America," said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. If approved, the proposed terms will go into effect by 2019.
"It deprives our country of potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth," President Trump said about the drilling ban back in April.
While the move delighted energy executives and conservative policymakers, it received immediate bipartisan pushback from coastal states who fear unrestricted offshore drilling will lead to a costly spill. Environmental groups and activists have vowed to fight the decision, but the news represents yet another blow for proponents of environmental stewardship and clean waters.
"Our ocean, waves and beaches are vital recreational, economic and ecological treasures to our coastal communities that will be polluted by new offshore oil drilling, regardless of whether or not there is a spill," said Dr. Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation. "Without a massive mobilization by coastal communities around the country in opposition to new offshore drilling, our voice will be drowned out by the lobbying power of Big Oil in Washington, D.C."
The move is expected to take over a year to finalize and will face several judicial and legislative hurdles. Nevertheless, Interior officials said they intended to hold 47 lease sales between 2019 and 2024, includes 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and seven in California.
While it’ll likely take years until new rigs are in place, long-term consequences for standup paddlers and ocean-enthusiasts are very real. For example, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill dumped over 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, which had devastating effects on wildlife, tourism, fisheries and hundreds of miles of coastline.
While new offshore drilling safety regulations had since been put in place, the Trump administration recently proposed to eliminate those rules as well. The reason being to reduce "unnecessary burdens" and save the oil industry $228 million over 10 years.
“Now is the time to fight this,” Oceana campaign director Diane Hoskins said. “Opening up our oceans to offshore drilling is a forever decision and so we’ll be very vocal and fighting this plan.”
We will provide furthers developments on this story as they become available.