Trump Signs Executive Order Aimed at Expanding Offshore Drilling

The latest plan for the years 2017-2022 was finalized under the Obama administration; in a major blow to the oil industry, the plan put certain areas in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans off limits for drilling, instead allowing leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and in Alaska's Cook Inlet.

Zinke addressed these concerns head-on, promising to keep in place safety and environmental protects, which he said are among the strongest in the world, even as Trump has moved to reduce other Obama-era environmental regulations in other areas.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order that could expand oil and gas drilling offshore.

Trump says at a White House signing ceremony, "Today, we're unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying energy jobs". The department oversees 1.7 billion acres of the outer continental shelf, which contains an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil. Under current restrictions, about 94 percent of that outer continental shelf is off limits to drilling.

Any drilling in the areas Trump moved to open is a long way off - if a path is cleared. "Trump is again going all-in for his Big Oil backers, with an executive order that attempts to undo President Obama's historic action".

Some analysts, as quoted by CNN, also note that it is not lack of access to new oil and gas reserves that is hobbling the energy industry; it was low global prices brought about by the shale revolution.

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The action could set up a legal confrontation over whether the Trump administration has the power to override a drilling ban in those areas that President Barack Obama instituted in the final weeks of his administration.

A month before leaving office, Obama banned offshore drilling in almost all of the Arctic under USA control to protect marine life and prevent potential oil spills. "Today's executive order is an important step towards spurring additional oil production through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline", Walker's statement said.

Friday's order came on the heels of a separate decree by Trump this week triggering a review of federally managed land to determine if they were improperly designated as national monuments by former presidents.

"It's a new day and a new attitude for American energy", said the group's president, Randall Luthi. They pointed out the order comes seven years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in theUS Gulf, which had prompted them to urge a slowdown in offshore oil development. Harnessing our nation's energy resources creates jobs and gives us leverage on the foreign stage.

The executive order also calls for review of any national marine sanctuary created or expanded over the past decade.

"This order will cement our nation's position as a global energy leader and foster energy security for the benefit of the American people without removing any of the stringent environmental safeguards that are now in place", Zinke said in a call with reporters on Thursday.

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