The US federal government owns a large swath of territorial waters that might be rich in oil and gas. Until now these waters were not open to exploitation. Trump’s administration, through the Interior Department, has released plans that will open 90% of us Federal waters to drilling companies. Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the interior, stated that “Under President Trump, we are going to have the strongest energy policy and become the strongest energy superpower. We certainly have the assets to do that.”
This proposal will spark off massive environmentalist condemnation and a war between rival oil and gas companies that vie for drilling rights. The proposal goes hand in hand with Trump’s view of the US economy and fossil fuels. Trump’s philosophy of strengthening the US economy relies on creating a surplus source of fossil fuels that will remove the US’s reliability from foreign sources.
The new proposal provides lease spans from 2019 to 2024 and will open at least 25 coastal areas to exploitation. The only safe area is Alaskan coast that is protected by a Presidential act set by George W Bush. Although, one of the last acts of President Obama was to offshore oil drilling permanently. A decision that most probably made President Trump extremely agitated.
While there is a lot of consternation about the proposal, Mr. Zinke stated that they plan on maintaining a rigid accountability system that will fully regulate the safety and scope of offshore work. An American Petroleum Institute representative Erik Milito stands by the plan and claims that the proposal will give the US a long-term solution to the transfer of energy period and will “encourage economic growth and create thousands of jobs.”
The environmentalists do not stand alone, they have political backing as well, as in Florida where Republican Governor Rick Scott opposes the plan and has demanded a meeting with Zinke to express his concern for conserving the natural resources off the Florida coast.
Opposition comes from many sources, including Billionaire Tom Steyer who stated that Trump is ignoring the evolution of clean energy and the transfer of fossil fuels to safer and cleaner sources, Trump is encouraging investors to strengthen the oil and gas markets.
Due to the decline in fossil fuels in the last decade, seismic surveying and prospective drilling have declined, and new surveys will need to be performed. Also, explanatory drilling tests will need to be done after the surveys are complete. The process for reaching a viable reserve can be over five years, which is enough time to create environmental restrictions for each specific site. Another issue that will have to contend is the creation of a pipeline infrastructure for every virgin site as well as constructing refineries and oil logistics centers.
The President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Rhea Suh told reporters that Trump’s administration is making a huge mistake, going against half a century of incremental change dating back to the Reagan era. The plan to exploit coastal natural resources will not only ruin the waters and open up disasters of a BP scale; they are trying to max out a failing energy source in the hope it will strengthen the US home market as well as placate a number of Trump supporters.