Long road ahead for Trump offshore drilling order

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The United States has been blessed with abundant oil and natural gas reserves.

On Friday, Trump signed an executive order aimed at reducing restrictions on oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic.

At the same time, increased domestic energy supply will lead to low energy prices, in turn benefiting citizens and reinvigorating US manufacturing and job growth.

Long road ahead for Trump offshore drilling order
Long road ahead for Trump offshore drilling order

The President stated that the order initiates "opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration", which reverses an Obama Administration Arctic leasing ban.

Zinke said the order will require him to review and replace the Obama administration's most recent five-year oil and gas development plan for the outercontinental shelf, which comprises federal waters off all US coasts. Environmentalists and many coastal lawmakers called it a reckless move that could lead more disasters, such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The offshore drilling policy is in line with Trump's electoral promise of allowing the production and use of more domestic energy, with emphasis on fossil fuels.

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Citing his department's data, Zinke said the Interior Department oversees some 1.7 billion acres on the outer continental shelf, which contains an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas.

"President Trump's Executive Order threatens our beaches, harbors, and waterways, and we must stand up to protect our environment by fighting his destructive and unsafe action", said Bonin.

Legal scholars said Trump would enter uncharted waters if he seeks to undo a national monument proclamation in an effort to remove environmental protections.

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The order also directs Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross not to designate any new marine sanctuaries or expand existing ones and to review all marine monuments and sanctuaries that Obama designated under the Antiquities Act. In its plan for 2017-2022, the Obama administration offered a conservative selection of leases in the western and central Gulf of Mexico and Alaska's Cook Inlet, leaving contested areas like the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico off the table. Savitz went on to point out that other resort and restaurant owners and coastal businesses have opposed offshore drilling. The other, high costs, is a factor beyond the control of the state or President Trump. Though a price slump that began in 2014 has reminded Alaskans to plan for a future in which oil no longer provides the lion's share of state revenue, the commodity remains a vital part of the Alaska economy and likely will remain so for decades to come. The executive order begins a process that involves study and public input, and could take years, though it does direct the Department of the Interior to expedite permits for seismic tests.

"The lifting of the ban does not necessarily make drilling in the Arctic a compelling proposition", she said.

"Allowing offshore drilling is a forever decision that will forever change our way of life for the worse", said Frank Knapp, president of Columbia, South Carolina-based Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast.

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Colvin reported from Washington, where Associated Press writer Matthew Daly also contributed to this report.