As reported by the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets, the Department of Interior has delayed plans to expand offshore oil drilling in U.S. waters. Agency officials cited a recent court decision that restores protections for the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic, saying they prefer to wait for the appeals process to play out before they make a final decision on what areas to open up for new drilling. Notably, Interior officials did not mention the overwhelming opposition to offshore drilling that continues to grow from coast to coast – but this surely played a role as well!
In response to the news, Surfrider Foundation’s Environmental Director, Pete Stauffer, issued the following statement:
“Offshore drilling is a dirty and dangerous practice that puts our marine environment, coastal communities and economies at unnecessary risk. Moreover, offshore drilling is wildly unpopular across the country as members of both political parties are overwhelmingly opposed to new oil and gas development off our coasts. This delay in releasing the offshore drilling plan is a major testament to the hard work of coastal advocates, elected officials, businesses, communities, Native Nations and the recreation industry, which have fought tirelessly against opening up our nation’s coasts to destructive offshore drilling. The Surfrider Foundation calls on the Trump administration to officially cancel plans to revise the 5-year offshore drilling program.”
Over the past two years, the Department has been working to revise the 5-year offshore drilling plan with new oil and gas development planned in the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and Arctic Oceans. The next draft of 5-year plan was expected to be released soon, but recent developments signal that the administration is sidelining its efforts – at least for now.
As we await more information, Surfrider calls on our supporters to continue speaking out against new offshore drilling. While the latest news is encouraging, it does not change the fact that new offshore oil drilling is currently planned in over 90% of U.S. waters. That’s why we must continue to fight to defend our coasts from new oil and gas development.
Opposition to offshore drilling continues to grow across the United States. More than 350 municipalities, 2,100 elected officials, 49,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families have formally opposed new offshore oil and gas development. Nearly all coastal governors and more than 150 members of Congress – both Democrats and Republicans – have voiced opposition to the federal administration’s plans to expand offshore drilling through a revised 5-year program. Florida, New Jersey, California, Oregon and New York have also recently banned nearshore oil and gas exploration in state waters off their coasts.