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The Offshore Drilling Debate

Logan Wallace, Staff Writer

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 The Trump administration announced offshore drilling will be allowed, lifting environmental restrictions put in place by Obama during the end of his term in December of 2016. Obama removed hundreds of millions of acres in the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean from new offshore oil and gas drilling.

Polar Pioneer in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, July 2015 (Image source: Shell Alaska) www.offshoreenergytoday.com

Similar actions were taken by Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to prevent drilling in Canada’s Arctic waters. “These actions, and Canada’s parallel actions, protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on earth,” said The White House in a released statement.

On January 9th, Secretary Ryan Zinke stated Florida will be removed from the offshore drilling plan after opposition from Florida governor, Rick Scott. Soon after many other state representatives questioned Zinke’s decision and wondered where they can get an exemption themselves including California, Oregon, New York, and Virginia. New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo tweeted, “New York doesn’t want drilling off our coast either. Where do we sign up for a waiver @SecretaryZinke?”

Zinke defended his decision with a statement saying “I support the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver. As a result of discussion with Governor Scott’s and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms.”

Florida Governor Rick Scott and Secretary Ryan Zinke meet at Tallahassee airport to discuss offshore energy proposal.

Zinke neglects other states and their coastlines such as California, “California like Florida, has hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline and a governor who wants to keep it that way,” says Representative Adam Schiff.

In April 2017 President Trump signed an executive order on an offshore energy strategy. “This [offshore drilling bans] deprivesour country of potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth… Renewed offshore energy production will reduce the cost of energy, create countless good jobs, and make America more secure and far more energy independent.”

This was welcomed by the oil and gas industry and met with alarmed environmental groups. Despite the amount of new income and energy acquired from offshore drilling, the environmental consequences may have a more drastic effect. Oil spills similar to that of Deepwater Horizon in 2010, killed 11 workers and injured 17. An estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil have been released from the oil rigs. 

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