One of the striking things about the Trump administration’s new plan for coastal drilling is just how broad the opposition is. The Washington Post reported:
The Trump administration unveiled a controversial proposal Thursday to permit drilling in most U.S. continental-shelf waters, including protected areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic, where oil and gas exploration is opposed by governors from New Jersey to Florida, nearly a dozen attorneys general, more than 100 U.S. lawmakers and the Defense Department.
Under the proposal, only one of 26 planning areas in the Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean would be off limits to oil and gas exploration, according to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. He said the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management has identified 47 potential areas where industry companies can buy leases between 2019 and 2024, when the proposed period would begin and end.
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), who votes with Donald Trump’s position more than 98% of the time, said, “As the state with the longest coastlines in the continental United States, Florida is especially vulnerable to oil spills. Have we forgotten so soon the devastating damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010?”
I suppose the answer depends on what the Republican congressman means by “we.” The Trump administration announced last week it’s scaling back the drilling industry’s safeguards created after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Yesterday was the second half of the one-two punch.
It’s worth emphasizing that yesterday’s announcement was the launch of a proposed policy, not the final word on a policy that’s poised to be implemented. The New Republic’s Emily Atkin noted that the change is “not a foregone conclusion yet: Public hearings on the Trump administration’s proposal begin on January 16.”
Whether the public-comment period is limited to actual people remains to be seen.