Can Trump lift the Arctic drilling ban in Obamas?

Trump wants to allow oil and gas drilling in almost all US coastal waters

According to plans by the Home Office, 90 percent of the waters of the outer US continental shelf are to be released for development in the future in the name of "energy dominance"

Business takes precedence over environmental protection, and weakness has no place in the face of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars that Obama's ban will cost. Oil and gas drilling is to be permitted again off the US coasts, it was announced from the realm of genius in the White House last week. This is what a plan by the Ministry of the Interior provides.

"There is a clear difference between energy weakness and energy dominance," replies the little-known interior minister of the Trump administration, Ryan Zinke, according to the Washington Post, to all those who support Obama's exploration and development restrictions off the US coasts.

Prominent among them are the Republican Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, as well as a number of states: New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon and Washington.

They all have in common the resistance to drilling off the coast, because of tourism, fishing or nature conservation reasons. As reported by the New York Times, Virginia's newly elected governor, concerns about military facilities are also part of the catalog of reasons behind the ban Offshore triplets.

Obama's bans

The Obama administration had banned oil and gas drilling for about 94 percent in the so-called "outer continental shelf" (OCS). These are coastal areas that are not governed by state law, but by the Washington government. Trump had ordered his Home Secretary in April to lift these restrictions, as the ban, as quoted by the New York Times, "takes away thousands and thousands of jobs and billions of dollars".

In this country, the reporting about a year ago with Normalinformed left the impression that Obama had secured his environmentally friendly drilling bans against his successor, who was known to prefer a different policy. This is what it was said around the time of December 21, 2016

US President Barack Obama has closed large parts of the Arctic and areas in the Atlantic to oil and gas drilling - a blow to the energy policy of his designated successor Donald Trump. According to a statement from the White House, the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and all of the Arctic waters off Canada remain closed. (...)

Obama's action is legitimized by a law of 1953 that allows him to permanently block waters for offshore drilling. Environmentalists hope that future President Donald Trump can no longer reverse the measure. The White House was optimistic that the disposition would withstand possible legal challenges. The wording of the law leaves future presidents no room for maneuver to break the lockdowns, it said.

The time

Apparently, Interior Minister Ryan Zinke and his staff discovered leeway after all. Because, as the New York Times says, according to Zinke, 90 percent of the OCS waters will be open for permits again in the future.

A new way to energy dominance

The Department of the Interior intends to open 25 of the 26 zones of the outer continental shelf for drilling, with the sole exception of the North Aleutian Basin off the north coast of Alaska. Drilling there was already banned under President George Bush.

With the new regulation under Trump, more waters off Alaska would be released for drilling than ever - what Obama had largely taken off the table, Beaufort and Chuckchi, will be released under the new administration, worries and, like all other publications, cites the announcement by Ryan Zinke, according to which the new government is determined to embark on a "new path to energy dominance", especially off the coasts.

"The oil price has to be right"

But so far this has only been an announcement, a draft program, as can be read with important details in German on the NZZ:

In the period 2019-2024, over 90% of the OCS - i.e. the federal territories off the American coasts - and more than 98% of the petroleum and natural gas resources suspected there are to be released for exploration and development. Under President Obama's current OCS plan, only 6% of the OCS is accessible.


Accordingly, it is a multi-year process, at the end of which exploration and production contracts are auctioned (according to the draft plan of the Interior Ministry there would be a total of 47 auctions, 19 concern the area off the coast of Alaska, 7 the Pacific coast, 12 the Gulf of Mexico and 9 the Atlantic coast).

It is not only governors like Rick Scott in Florida who have announced resistance ("My top priority is to protect Florida's natural resources"), but also to overcome a number of other obstacles and to make greater investments, especially off the Atlantic coast - the oil price has to be right, according to the New York Times. But now a signal is set.

Incidentally, the Obama administration is also known to have thought out loud about drilling on the Atlantic coast from time to time - see USA facing an energy boom in the Atlantic; Alaska was not taboo (despite the oil plague in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon accident, 2010).

And what Trump can do, namely repeal the legal requirements of his predecessor, could, in the opposite sense, also be the potential successor. (Thomas Pany)

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