Last week, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke unveiled The Trump Administration’s proposal that would allow for leasing more than 98 percent of U.S. coastal waters for offshore oil and natural gas drilling. The leases would be awarded by way of auctions held between 2019-2024.
Now, you can image how the two biggest stakeholder groups felt about this one. The oil and gas companies obviously love the idea of dotting the U.S. coast with drilling platforms, while environmental groups aren’t really cool with throwing out the protections secured by President Obama.
However, what might be surprising are the growing list of lawmakers, manufacturers and military officials that oppose these moves.
Leaders of states on both coasts, including California, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Jersey and New York are against the proposed leases. These states’ objections stem from interference with burgeoning offshore wind farm opportunities, and the impact these activities could have on other industries like tourism and fishing.
So, while the whole concept driving the strategy is to help boost domestic energy production, it’s essentially turning that sector of manufacturing against those who make turbines, benefit from tourists and process seafood.
Pentagon officials have also raised concerns about their ability to perform tactical training exercises if they’re dodging oil wells off the coasts of Virginia and Hawaii.
The Department of the Interior says these sales typically take about two years to finalize, and are subject to environmental review and analysis. The last such sale in the U.S. took place in 1980.
In case you were wondering, the billions of dollars raised by these auctions go to the U.S. Treasury to be used as Congress and the President choose, but a smaller portion is provided to the Historic Preservation Fund and Land and Water Conservation Fund.
These organizations help preserve properties on the National Register of Historic Places and appropriate funds for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. Neighboring states also provided with a portion of the proceeds.
The proposal now moves to legislative branch for further discussion.