The executive order aims to reverse part of a December effort by Obama to deem the bulk of US -owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic as indefinitely off limits to oil and gas leasing.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday directing the Department of the Interior to look at opening up more areas to offshore drilling.
The action is the latest from the Trump administration aimed at boosting domestic energy production and loosening environmental regulations.
Last December, before leaving office, Obama preserved 3.8 million acres of the Atlantic Ocean and 115 million acres of the Arctic Ocean by making oil and gas drilling off-limits.
Alaska governor Bill Walker has issued a statement on the reversal of policy issued Friday morning in the form of an executive order from President Donald Trump. With a whopping 94 percent of our outer continental shelf now locked away from oil and gas development, a thorough review of the regulatory framework governing our offshore energy resources is warranted and logical. Mel Martinez, a Republican, got a deal passed to ban drilling off Florida's Gulf coast through 2022.
It will likely take years to remove at least one of the bans-the one concerning Arctic and Atlantic drilling, for which President Obama invoked a rarely used clause from the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Land Act. His administration has stopped defending Obama-era pollution regulations challenged in court. The move sets in motion a potential reversal of President Barack Obama's last-minute attempts to withdraw vast swaths of US waters from lease sales to fossil fuel companies.
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"The statute doesn't allow that".
Monuments created during those years range from President Obama's designation of the 5,000-square-mile Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the New England coast in 2016 to President George W. Bush's early 2009 creation (and Obama's 2014 expansion) of the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument south and west of Hawaii - the largest marine protected area in the world. Environmental groups are already saying the order is illegal, and it's nearly certain it will be challenged in court, like several other orders Trump has signed. That plan allowed for limited offshore drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, but put off limits any drilling operations in the Arctic and in parts of the Atlantic.
"I understand that some of you will have concerns about the environmental impact that development may have and that's a valid concern and it's a concern that the president and I both share", Zinke said.
The order instructs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review a plan dictating which federal sites are open to drilling. The Interior Department will have to conduct a review and industry demand for more oil leases is now low because of low prices and onshore production.
"The Trump administration's hasty move today toward expanding offshore oil drilling. defies market realities and is as reckless as it is unnecessary", said David Jenkins, president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, a non-profit conservation group.