Trump lifts restrictions on offshore drilling

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on April 28 to lift restrictions placed on offshore oil drilling by the previous administration. According to a statement, about 94% of the US Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) was either off-limits to or not considered for oil and gas exploration and development under previous rules. Trump blamed federal regulations for high unemployment in the state of Alaska, where oil and gas are a significant part of the economy, and said lifting restrictions would create thousands of jobs. Opponents, including US Congressman Charlie Christ (D-FL), criticized the move, citing environmental risks posed by drilling, especially naming the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

In 2016, US President Obama withdrew all of the northern Atlantic Ocean and most of the Arctic Ocean under federal jurisdiction from oil exploration and production through the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. In January, the Washington Supreme Court issued a ruling against plans for a major oil terminal on the West Coast.

From Jurist, April 29. Used with permission.

Note: Trump's new order overturns Barack Obama's declaration of Arctic and Atlantic offshore waters "indefinitely off limits" under powers granted the executive by the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. There will presumably be a court battle over whether Trump now has the authority to remove these waters from protection. The January ruling by the Washington Supreme Court against the terminal project at Grays Harbor came in a case brought by the Quinault Indian Nation and four environmental groups. Numerous other such terminal projects remain pending, in both the US and Canada.

  1. Native autonomy eroded in Trump offshore order

    The Bering Sea Elders Group issues a statement in response to Trump's exectuve order, noting that the December 2016 Obama order it seeks to overturn (EO 13754, "Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience") created a Bering Sea Intergovernmental Tribal Advisory Council, giving impacted Native communities a voice in development questions concerning their traditional waters. This body now stands to be disarticulated with Trump's order. (Native American Rights Fund)

  2. RT makes (ironic) hay from Trump offshore order

    Pretty funny to see RT running the headline "Native Alaskan tribes 'shocked & appalled' by Trump’s Arctic drilling executive order." Let us know when they have ever run such critical coverage of the oil mega-development plans by Putin and his petro-oligarchs that threaten Russia's indigenous peoples.

  3. Trump proposes vast expansion of offshore drilling

    The Trump administration on Jan. 4 unveiled a new five-year plan that would allow more drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans. "This is a start on looking at American energy dominance," said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, adding that the plan would make the US "the strongest energy superpower." He said the new plan would make more than 90% of the outer continental shelf (OCS) open for leasing, including off California.

    The plan would schedule 47 lease sales from 2019 to 2024, which Zinke called the largest number of sales ever proposed for the national OCS Program's five-year lease schedule. It would include 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, seven in the Pacific region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and nine in the Atlantic region.

    Zinke's move came days after the Trump team proposed weakening rules on offshore drilling safety equipment, saying they pose an undue burden for the industry. (Science)

    1. Whose fucking public lands? Our fucking public lands!

      Note once again the obfuscatory nature of the first-person plural pronoun. 

      "I think the default should be that all of our offshore areas should be available," said Thomas J. Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance. "These are our lands. They're taxpayer-owned and they should be made available." (NYT)

      So these are "our" lands—meaning the tax-paying public—therefore… they should be privatized to the oil industry? Neat sleight-of-hand. The meaning of the word "our" literally changes from one sentence to the next.

  4. California enacts legislation against Trump offshore plan

    California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Sept. 8 intended to block the Trump administration’s move to allow drilling off the coast of his state. SB-834 "prohibits … granted public trust lands from entering into any new lease or other conveyance authorizing new construction of oil- and gas-related infrastructure upon tidelands and submerged lands within state waters," effectively blocking oil and gas companies from accessing offshore space in which to drill.

    A press release from the governor’s office noted California’s alliance with Oregon to prevent offshore oil from reaching the states, citing climate change and California’s 20-year history of not leasing natural lands for the purpose of oil and gas drilling.

    President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13795 in April, rolling back protections put in place by the Obama administration and allowing offshore drilling companies to bid for land on the US Continental Shelf. The order emphasized “financial burdens” to the oil and gas industry and argued that reducing that cost would boost the economy. The order and others have faced legal challenges, but California’s bill marks the first legislative effort against the order. (Jurist)