The Raw Data
Unspun and unbiased. These are the facts.
The U.S. Department of the Interior released a plan on Thursday to allow for new areas of offshore oil and gas drilling. The proposal includes areas in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans, as well as the Gulf of Mexico. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the plan was a “draft program” and that “nothing is final yet.” He added that “states, local communities and congressional delegations will all have a say” before the Interior finalizes its plan.
The Interior’s 2019-2024 five-year plan proposes 47 possible areas where companies can buy leases to drill, including some in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Obama administration’s 2017-2022 plan had 11 lease sales, none of them in the Atlantic or Pacific.
The proposed plan would allow drilling in 90 percent of the outer continental shelf, an area covering 98 percent of U.S. recoverable offshore oil and gas reserves. According to the Interior, the current plan allows drilling in six percent of the outer continental shelf. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates U.S. offshore oil reserves to be 90 billion barrels and natural gas reserves to be 127 trillion cubic feet.
The Interior plans to hold meetings in 2018 to hear public input on the plan.
Reasons given for and against the plan
Zinke said, “Responsibly developing our energy resources on the Outer Continental Shelf in a safe and well-regulated way is important to our economy and energy security, and it provides billions of dollars to fund the conservation of our coastlines, public lands and parks.”
Some politicians oppose new drilling along their states’ shorelines. According to Diane Hoskins, campaign director of the nonprofit group Oceana, this includes both Republican and Democratic governors from New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon and Washington. Florida’s Republican governor Rick Scott also opposes new drilling, saying his concern was protecting his state’s “natural resources.” New Jersey’s Republican governor Chris Christie mentioned beach tourism as a reason for his opposition.
Previous drilling regulations
In December 2016, then-President Barack Obama imposed a ban on drilling in 125 million acres of the Arctic Ocean, and in some areas of the Atlantic Ocean. In April 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order that rescinded Obama’s ban and called for a review of some offshore drilling rules.
On Dec. 28, 2017, the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) announced a proposal to rescind some of the offshore oil drilling safety regulations put in place by the Obama administration in April 2016. The regulations were introduced after oil company BP’s Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling accident in 2010 that spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, according to The New York Times.
BSEE Director Scott A. Angelle said the December proposal to rescind some of the safety regulations was designed to reduce a “regulatory burden” on oil companies and encourage more production.