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Washington gives green light to offshore oil exploitation

The Trump administration intends to reopen oil and gas development off its shores, thus reverting to environmental protection provisions made by former President Barack Obama.

The decision, announced Thursday by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, will have the effect of reopening 90{ed1200bddbc03902e1fcc2a87da27944790d59ab127710d2b088ca8caae8436e} of US territorial waters to drilling on the high seas from 2019.

It is estimated that these waters would be home to 98{ed1200bddbc03902e1fcc2a87da27944790d59ab127710d2b088ca8caae8436e} of the unexploited oil and gas resources in the United States.

In concrete terms, the government plans to grant 47 drilling permits in five years. There are 19 leases off Alaska, 7 in the Pacific, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and 9 in the Atlantic.

After tightening the rules by the Obama administration, only 6{ed1200bddbc03902e1fcc2a87da27944790d59ab127710d2b088ca8caae8436e} of US coastal waters could be exploited.

“We want to develop the offshore energy industry of our nation instead of slowly giving it over to foreign interests,” said Secretary Zinke, adding that the project is part of the Trump administration’s American energy dominance program.

“There is a clear difference between weakness and power dominance,” said Zinke. With President Trump, we will be the strongest superpower because we have the means, “he said.

The news has delighted oil producers. “Extending access to additional marine reserves will allow the United States to better know where the potential for production is and where capital must be invested,” the Association of Independent Producers of American Petroleum Products said in a statement.

Opposition

But this measure was immediately denounced by organizations defending the environment.

“The expansion of offshore drilling faces strong opposition from representatives of both parties (Republican and Democrat), coastal communities, as well as state governors such as New Jersey, the Carolinas of North and South, Virginia and Florida, “said the Sierra Club, one of these leading organizations.

“Rather than listen to the people they are supposed to serve, Trump and Zinke listen to the manufacturers who financed their campaign and make up their administration,” says the organization.

Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott has also denounced this measure.

“I immediately asked to meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns raised by this project and the need to remove Florida from the [exploitable areas] list,” he said in a statement.

Frank Knapp, founder of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, blames Washington for favoring the oil and gas sector at the expense of tourism.

Crude oil production in the United States has risen sharply since 2011, reaching 9.7 million barrels a day, nearly half of the country’s consumption.

About the author

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Mark Furgison

Mark has over six years experience as a teacher, ecologist, zoologist and botanist. She has a B.S. from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University Graduate School. His professional expertise in environmental health empacts has been recognized since 1973, when she testified at a New York DEC public hearing in Utica on ground truthing aerial photo wetland mapping by wetland community type. He taught (HS) Physics, Geology, Oceanography, Chemistry and photography from 1970-1980 at Palfrey Street School, Watertown, MA. Aproject: National Cooperative Highway Research Program.

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