Liberals Are Freaking Out About Trump’s Offshore Drilling Plans
President's aggressive proposal for new oil, gas exploration brings usual fearmongering from the Left
President Donald Trump will revoke bans on offshore drilling and offer leases in 47 areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.
The bans were issued by former President Barack Obama and affected leases from 2017 to 2022. Trump’s action to revoke the bans has already brought fury from the Left, and even from some Republicans.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Thursday the offshore drilling bans will be lifted as soon as 2019, and that the leases will run from 2019 to 2024. Some 90 percent of the continent's offshore areas would be made available to drilling, according to Reuters.
The proposal is bound to be controversial. Leases were last approved along the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in the 1980s. Tourism officials and residents of communities in both California and South Carolina have opposed leases in the past, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican and Trump ally, has already voiced his displeasure.
Proposed leases include 19 off the coast of Alaska, seven in the Pacific, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and nine in the Atlantic Region, according to Reuters.
Obama actually proposed expansion of offshore drilling in 2010, perhaps looking at record-high oil prices in 2008 as motivation. But BP's big rig, Deepwater Horizon, blew up in April 2010 — spilling millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico — and new offshore drilling became politically untenable after that.
With increased U.S. drilling in the last few years, oil has been low in price of late. But it has slowly crept up as economic activity and Middle East concerns rise: Brent crude traded for $68 a barrel, the highest prices since December 2014.
Among Trump's first executive orders almost a year ago were approvals of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, two projects that Obama delayed.
Still, Trump has been an energetic cheerleader for fracking for oil and natural gas, and he recently signed legislation opening up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to some drilling, a long-delayed plan first approved in the late 1970s.
Among Trump's first executive orders almost a year ago were approvals of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, two projects that Obama delayed. The pipelines, when completed, will bring hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil to U.S. refineries daily.
A review process and public hearings have to happen first. And despite the fact that the United States currently has 2,900 active leases, covering almost 15.3 million acres — the new policy has members of the Left and the media freaking out.
The Sierra Club, an environmentalist group, has already promised to sue. A coalition of 64 anti-drilling groups also called the decision "shameful."
In Florida, where the tourism industry is incredibly powerful, liberals were trying to drive a wedge between Republicans and Sunshine State residents.
"Thank you & GOP for sacrificing Florida's tourism economy for a few oil producers by endorsing a 'dangerous con man' for President," tweeted Grant Stern, a Miami-based columnist for Occupy Democrats.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), whom Scott will likely run against in this year's midterms, made sure to tweet out a picture of an offshore oil rig on fire.
Ralph Nader, the longtime left-wing activist, said, "Taxpayers, workers, environment and climate [are] at risk" — just about everybody, in other words — because of Trump's decision.
The Center for American Progress went a step further than most, superimposing 2010's Deepwater Horizon spill over a map near New Jersey. The footprint extends deep into the Garden State and even hits Pennsylvania, even though oil spills in oceans don't extend into land to that degree.
Of course, liberals cried crocodile tears for "conservatism," suggesting the expansion of leases was a blow to states' rights, an issue they have not particularly cared about in the past.
Adam Blickstein, a former aide to Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), said the action was a blow to such rights, especially given the Justice Department's Thursday decision to rescind Obama's guidelines on prosecuting marijuana in states where legislatures have legalized it. Blickstein said the two moves were "all-out war" on states.