President Trump Reverses Obama Era Policy Banning Offshore Drilling
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President Donald Trump is preparing to issue an executive order with the goal of giving oil companies more opportunities to drill offshore, reversing Obama-era policies that restricted the activity.
The offshore drilling directive is set to be issued soon, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told an industry conference in Washington Thursday.
President Trump promised to expand domestic energy development and his administration has already signaled its interest in opening up coastal waters where President Barack Hussein Obama blocked new Crude Oil and Nat Gas development.
Energy companies are lobbying the Interior Department to schedule sales of new offshore Crude Oil and Nat Gas rights in US Atlantic and Arctic waters, amending a 5-year Obama Admin leasing plan that left out auctions there.
Administration officials also have been considering how to revoke Mr. Hussein Obama’s decision to withdraw almost all US Arctic waters and some Atlantic Ocean acreage from future leasing.
Environmentalists say it would be unprecedented for any president to rescind such a designation, and the reversal would almost certainly be challenged in court.
Although President Trump can set those policy changes in motion with an executive order, the real work falls to bureaucrats in the Interior Department and could span years.
Wedging new Arctic and Atlantic lease sales into the government’s 5-year plan would require environmental analysis and public comment periods, perhaps consuming a year for seas north of Alaska and even longer for parcels along the US East Coast.
Sec. Zinke did not provide specific details on the executive order during his Thursday presentation to the National Ocean Industries Association.
An Interior Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
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