Trump to open up vast offshore US expanses for oil and gas drilling

US President Donald Trump and his administration have proposed to open up over 90% of the country’s offshore regions for oil and gas development, in a move which would repeal the Obama administration’s policy to limit such activity.

The plans are aimed at boosting domestic energy production, however the efforts to unlock previously off-limits areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans have been met with protest from environmentalists, coastal states and the tourism industry.

Nearly 50 lease sales in all but one of 26 planning areas in US waters are being considered under the draft plan, including 19 off the coast of Alaska, seven in the Pacific, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and nine in the Atlantic Ocean.

If successful, the plans will reverse the Obama administration’s order which placed 94% of the Outer Continental Shell off limits to oil and gas companies. Just weeks before leaving office, Obama banned new drilling in Atlantic and Arctic waters, protecting around 48 million hectares of ocean.

“We want to grow our nation’s offshore energy industry, instead of slowly surrendering it to foreign shores,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. He also confirmed that the proposal was the start of a dialogue with local stakeholders and the plan was not final.

The proposals face the fiercest opposition from communities along the Eastern seaboard, who have vehemently resisted oil and gas development off the coast of the Atlantic.