Trump administration delays offshore oil drilling plan until after 2020 Election

The Department of the Interior under President Donald Trump is delaying his plan to expand offshore oil drilling until after the 2020 Election in a temporary reprieve for coastlines around the country.

In 2017, Trump announced his intent to open up all coastlines to oil and gas drilling in a major gift to the fossil fuel industry that drew objections from lawmakers, scientists and environmentalists everywhere.

After the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, former President Barack Obama placed a moratorium on new oil and gas leases and took executive action to place pristine coastal areas in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans off limits.

But Trump has sought to reverse those actions by ordering the Interior Department, which is headed by an oil industry lobbyist, to put together a plan to sell new leases.

By January 2018, Interior had drafted a plan to open an astounding 90 percent of coastal territory to drilling, a plan that would be devastating to coastal and oceanic ecosystems all in an effort to enrich oil executives at a time when one million species are at risk of extinction due to human activities such as drilling, which would be more dangerous because of Trump’s crusade against environmental regulations.

A federal court recently dealt the plan a setback by ruling that Trump abused his power, and legal appeals are expected to drag on at least through 2020.

Not only that, but several coastal red states such as Florida, South Carolina and Georgia all oppose expanded offshore drilling that could pollute their shores and hurt tourism. After all, people want to see pristine coastlines, not one that is dotted with oil platforms.

The backlash and potential political impact on Trump’s reelection has forced the administration to delay the plan.

According to Bloomberg:

Administration officials are worried that the president and Republican leaders in the southeast U.S. would lose votes if they pushed forward with the plan to sell new drilling rights in the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans, said the people, who asked not to be identified revealing confidential discussions. Procedural missteps and a court ruling jeopardizing new oil drilling opportunities in Arctic waters also complicated the effort.

Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund executive director Kevin Curtis hailed the delay.

“Bipartisan opposition to offshore drilling from a growing number of local, state and federal officials across America has made this a political loser for President Trump, and he knows it,” Curtis said. “Every candidate for federal office in 2020 will be asked whether they stand with Trump and the oil companies or with the families, business owners, and local officials who oppose the expansion of dirty, dangerous and climate-wrecking drilling off our beaches.”

Oceana chief policy officer Jacqueline Savitz agreed, but warned that the fight is still ongoing and opponents of the plan must remain vigilant.

“We may have generated enough opposition to slow this down, but until the Trump plan is final, the president is positioned to open up our coasts at a moment’s notice,” she said.

That means it is important that voters hold governmental officials accountable in 2020 and demand they continue to protect our coastlines from the ravages of oil drilling. Because while Trump’s plan has suffered a setback, he still intends to enact it. And once the election is over, Republicans who opposed the plan out of political necessity will revert back to supporting it in the name of profit, even if it means coastal communities suffer.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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