The Trump Interior Department announced Thursday plans to offer blocks in the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans for oil and gas exploration in a new five-year offshore lease plan.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the draft proposal for offshore leasing between 2019 and 2014 would offer about 90 percent of the U.S. outer continental shelf to drilling companies, the largest ever. In the statement, Secretary Zinke said the proposal could increase federal revenue by $15 billion.
More than a billion acres will be considered for oil and gas production. The only area that will not be included in the proposal is the is the North Aleutian Basin in Alaska, existing marine sanctuaries, or areas around Hawaii and U.S. territories.
Currently, most offshore drilling in the U.S. takes place in the central and western portions of the Gulf of Mexico. This sale will offer companies the opportunity to vastly expand their current operations.
Opposition to the proposal will remain very high as environmentalists and politicians are immediately voicing their opposition to the plan.
New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan (D) immediately expressed her disapproval citing environmental disasters as a problem through a tweet: “Offshore drilling has caused some of the greatest man-made natural disasters of our time.”
As well Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) voiced his concern through a statement on twitter: “I have already asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration.”
Environmentalists groups have immediately moved as more than 60 of them have denounced the plans, saying the proposal would impose severe and unacceptable harm to American’s oceans, coastal economies, public health and marine life.
The public will have 60-days to comment on the proposed program, which is the first of two opportunities for public comment on the plan. To comment on the proposal, go to the BOEM website. Comments will be accepted July 3 through August 17, 2018.