Q&A: Plan to expand offshore drilling draws cheers, jeers

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By DAVID KOENIG and MATTHEW DALY

The Associated Press
WASHINGTON  — The vitality is cheering the Trump administration’s proposal to open practically all U.S. coastlines to offshore oil and gasoline drilling, saying it’s going to cut back U.S. dependence on international provides and create jobs.

Independent specialists are doubtful. They cite sturdy opposition — even from Republicans — to some ocean drilling and query whether or not oil corporations will put money into costly new offshore initiatives when there are plentiful reserves in shale on the U.S. mainland.

Questions and solutions for the administration’s proposal — essentially the most expansive offshore drilling proposal in many years — together with potential roadblocks and what it may imply for U.S. vitality manufacturing.

WHAT’S THE ADMINISTRATION’S PROPOSAL?

The administration introduced a brand new five-year plan for vitality leases in federal waters. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke stated it could promote accountable vitality growth, enhance jobs and pay for coastal conservation efforts. The plan proposes 47 leases beginning in 2019 that Zinke stated would open up 90 p.c of U.S. offshore reserves to growth by non-public corporations.

The plan requires expanded drilling within the Arctic and off the Atlantic coast and would open up waters off California for the primary time in additional than three many years. Drilling could be allowed from Florida to Maine in areas which were blocked for many years.

An effort to expand offshore leasing was anticipated ever since final April, when President Donald Trump signed an govt order encouraging extra drilling rights in federal waters to assist the U.S. obtain “energy dominance” within the world market.

WHAT DOES THE ENERGY INDUSTRY THINK?

Industry teams praised the plan. The American Petroleum Institute’s Erik Milito stated it could enhance nationwide vitality safety, encourage financial development, assist customers and create 1000’s of recent jobs.

The Independent Petroleum Association of America stated opening new areas to leasing would enhance information about potential sources and assist corporations make selections about the place to make investments whereas boosting growth of America’s plentiful vitality sources.

WHAT DO ENVIRONMENTALISTS THINK?

A coalition of greater than 60 environmental teams instantly denounced the plan, saying it could trigger “severe and unacceptable harm” to America’s oceans, coastal economies, public well being and marine life.

“These ocean waters are not President Trump’s personal playground. They belong to all Americans and the public wants them preserved and protected, not sold off to multinational oil companies,” stated an announcement from members of the coalition, which included the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters.

WHAT DO THE COASTAL STATES SAY?

Some lawmakers in coastal states help offshore drilling, however in some states even Republicans have been crucial of the Trump proposal.

In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott requested for a right away assembly with Zinke. Rep. Brian Mast, a conservative Republican who represents a coastal district north of Miami, stated oil drilling off the Florida coast “puts our economy, environment and marine life at risk.”

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland requested the administration to withdraw proposed leases off his state’s coast.

Democratic governors alongside the West Coast blasted the plan. In a joint assertion, California Gov. Jerry Brown, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee vowed to “do whatever it takes to stop this reckless, short-sighted action.”

WILL THE PLAN BE APPROVED?

Thursday’s proposal is a draft. There will probably be a interval for public feedback, and environmentalists and probably officers in some coastal states are possible to sue. Some delicate or politically unpopular components of the plan, like drilling off California, may very well be jettisoned. Final approval is unlikely for months and even years.

DOES THE U.S. NEED THE OIL?

The oil likes the concept that these areas, lengthy off-limits, may sometime be dwelling to drilling rigs. But curiosity in creating them immediately could be stronger if oil have been nonetheless over $100 a barrel, because it was in 2014, as a substitute of present costs hovering round $60 per barrel.

“There will be some selective interest, but it’s going to be limited in this price environment and the continued growth of shale,” stated Brian Youngberg, an oil-industry analyst with Edward Jones.

Advances in pumping oil and pure gasoline from shale formations have spurred big development within the U.S. vitality . More environment friendly autos, harder insurance policies to restrict local weather change, and the expansion of renewable vitality imply that demand for oil may peak — though there are big variations of opinion about when which may occur.

WOULD IT INCREASE U.S. PRODUCTION?

Even if the administration’s leasing program is decreased by the remark course of or lawsuits, specialists suppose it may enhance manufacturing, however not for a number of years a minimum of.

Jason Bordoff, an vitality professional at Columbia University and a former Obama administration official, stated the scale of the Trump administration’s proposal is big. “You’re not going to see this much of the offshore opened to drilling or lease sales,” he stated.

Still, Bordoff believes some new areas are possible to be opened and that “could have an impact on U.S. production. But this is pretty far down the road — likely well into the 2020s.”

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