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Trump administration aims to open nearly all U.S. offshore waters to drilling

From Reuters - January 4, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration on Thursday proposed opening nearly all U.S. offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, reversing protections in the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific.

The bid to expand American energy production faces objections from environmentalists, state officials and some business groups worried about spills and the potential impact on coastal tourism.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the draft National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019 to 2024 would make over 90 percent of the outer continental shelfs total acreage available for leasing, including areas put off-limits by the Obama administration.

We want to grow our nations offshore energy industry, instead of slowly surrendering it to foreign shores, Zinke said in prepared remarks, saying the plan is part of the Trump administrations American Energy Dominance agenda.

The Interior Department identified 47 potential lease sales compared with 11 under Democratic former President Barack Obamas strategy, making it the largest number of lease sales in U.S. history offered in a federal five-year plan. Weeks before leaving office, Obama had banned new oil and gas drilling in federal waters in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, protecting 115 million acres (46.5 million hectares) of waters off Alaska and 3.8 million acres (1.5 million hectares)in the Atlantic from New England to the Chesapeake Bay.

Republican President Donald Trump last April ordered the Interior Department to overhaul the existing offshore drilling plan, which the agency said placed 94 percent of the outer continental shelf off-limits to drillers.

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