On April 28, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to expand offshore drilling opportunities. Dubbed the “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” the order also ordered a review “of all designations and expansions of National Marine Sanctuaries.”
The order reversed an action taken by former President Barack Obama on December 20, 2016, which was meant to prevent oil exploration within areas of the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States.
Following this action, on May 1, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued orders to revise the 2017-2022 leasing plan for the Outer Continental Shelf.
The moves were met with swift opposition by environmentalists and many on the left. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, for example, issued a statement indicating the state would “vigorously oppose new drilling off the shores of our coast.”
The Business Journal sought reactions from the Western States Petroleum Association, Congressmember Alan Lowenthal, and the Long Beach Area Sierra Club. They are as follows:
Catherine Reheis Boyd, President
Western States Petroleum Association
“While energy policy is discussed in Washington D. C., we are focused on the matters affecting our members in the West. Our member companies proudly operate in some of the toughest regulatory environments in the country, where we power economies and lead in environmental protection.
“We value and are committed to working with the leaders, elected and otherwise, in the communities and states in which we operate to deliver our products safely, efficiently and in ways that best protect our environment now and in the future.”
Congressmember Alan Lowenthal
California’s 47th District
“The president’s proposal is a non-starter. There is bipartisan opposition to this in Congress. It took years to develop the 2017-2022 five-year leasing plan, which called for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It is a really bad idea to throw out all of that work and start from scratch to develop a plan that will in no doubt be a handout to the oil industry. I still remember the Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969 from a platform offshore. Beaches were fouled throughout the Channel Islands and Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Thousands of birds were killed as well as other sea life like sea lions, dolphins and elephant seals. The spill is still the third largest in U.S. history and led to decades of bans on offshore drilling in federal waters that the president is now considering lifting. Opening up new areas to leasing won’t bring us toward the brighter future we want to leave for our children. That is why this week I have authored a bipartisan letter to Secretary of the Interior Zinke urging him to not consider offshore oil and gas leasing in the Atlantic and Pacific as asked for in the president’s executive order.”
Gabrielle Weeks, Chair
Long Beach Area Sierra Club
“The oil spill that sparked the modern-day environmental movement and Earth Day took place nearly five decades ago. This executive order will not undo the progress we’ve made and, like most of Trump’s actions, is poorly thought out and likely to fail.
Our hope is that Trump’s followers are starting to realize that renewable energy isn’t just better for wildlife, it’s better for our economy and human health, employing more people and costing less than fossil fuels.” n