President Donald Trump continues to dismantle former President Obama’s environmental regulations by signing an executive order that may lead to the expansion of drilling in the Artic and Atlantic oceans. In a move to make this change by the 100 days milestone, the president ordered his interior secretary to review an Obama-era plan that dictates which locations are open to offshore drilling with the goal to expand the existing operations.
This is the next step in fulfilling Trump’s promise to unleash the nation’s energy reserves, reduce reliance on foreign oil and spur the creation of new jobs. This move was made in spite of fierce opposition from environmental activists who say that offshore drilling harms whales, walruses and other wildlife; and advances global warming as well. President Obama deemed the majority of U.S. owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to oil and gas leasing.
“This order will cement our nation’s position as a global energy leader and foster energy security for the benefit of American people, without removing any of the stringent environmental safeguards that are currently in place,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters at a White House briefing. Zinke continued by saying that this order “puts us on track for American energy independence.” This order could open to oil and gas exploration areas off Virginia and North and South Carolina, where drilling has been blocked for decades.
Zinke cited his department’s data and reported that it oversees some 1.7 billion acres on the outer continental shelf which contains an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas. Under the current regulations, about 94% of that outer continental shelf is off-limits to drilling. He acknowledged that environmental concerns were “valid,” but argued that the benefits outweigh the concerns.
Greenpeace activist, Diana Best, said that opening new areas to offshore drilling would put the U.S. “into decades of harmful pollution, devastating spills like the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, and a fossil fuel economy with no future. Scientific consensus is that the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves – including the oil and gas off U.S. coasts- must remain undeveloped if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change.” Jacqueline Savitz of the ocean advocacy group “Oceana” challenged that the order would lead to “corner-cutting and set us up for another havoc-wreaking environmental disaster” in places like the Outer Banks or in remote Barrow, Alaska, “where there’s no proven way to remove oil from sea ice. We need smart, tough standards to ensure that energy companies are not operating out of control,” and she added: “In their absence, America’s future promises more oil spills and industrialized coastlines.”
Let us know your thoughts about the president’s plan to loosen environmental regulations.
Credit: ABC News