When he was running for president, Mr. Donald Trump’s platform claimed how he would not only bring jobs back to the United States but he would also be investing in the exploitation of natural resources that would create jobs. In other words, he would be bringing back energy jobs in coal and oil.
As an environmentalist, I was uncertain what his presidency would mean for the environment and public lands that America holds so dear. It wasn’t until December that we began to get the first taste of what this was going to be like.
I received alerts from multiple news sources in early December so I hopped online to read more about what was going on. Everyone was posting about, Patagonia even blacked out their website and social media channels saying, “The President Stole Your Land.”
This is what a presidency under Donald Trump was looking like. He altered the mere fundamental reasons for having public land; land that is meant to be cherished and enjoyed by thousands for generations to come. Now the land in Utah that was once designated as a national park was now going to shrink so that some of it could be used for drilling purposes. Not only are our parks being shrunk, but many of the ocean shores are being put on the table to drill into for oil. “Mr. Trump’s plan upends a decades-long effort to balance the nation’s energy needs with protecting ocean ecosystems.” (NYT). Only the governors of six states are in favor of opening up the shores for offshore drilling, but most states are undecided at the present time.
Each president has had their own views on drilling. Most coastal states control the leasing of their shorelines out to three nautical miles (roughly 3.5 miles) and beyond that is the federal government’s property. When a company wishes to use the federal government’s property, they are leased in five-year plans if they are approved. Both Congress and the president have the authority to impose protections and moratoriums to render areas off limits to leasing (NYT).
President George W. Bush opened up new areas to offshore drilling for the first time in decades when he lifted a longstanding moratorium. At the same time, a bill was passed by Congress in 2006 that allowed new drilling in some parts of the Gulf of Mexico but banned drilling in most of the eastern Gulf until 2022.
President Obama originally said that his administration would expand offshore drilling until the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which cause him to change his mind. In the final weeks of his administration, President Obama called for a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling along wide areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic, which helped boost his environmental legacy.
Mr. Trump appears to want to undo all that his predecessors have accomplished.
Under the new plan, 25 out of the 26 regions would open the continental shelf to drilling. There would even be the potential that the Gulf would reopen after 2022 due to the 2006 moratorium.
There is the potential for “almost two-thirds of the nation’s oil reserves that companies can hope to drill for while still turning a profit lie in the seas already open to drilling. Meanwhile, there’s little recoverable oil and gas in the South Atlantic or the Straits of Florida, or off the Washington and Oregon coast, or off Alaska outside the north shore. (NTY).” But it is apparent that Mr. Trump does not wish to take others professional opinions on where would be the best places to drill and would prefer to merely destroy our natural ecosystems and leave the state in disarray.
While it will take many months to fully pass this new measure, the Republicans and Trump’s administration are quickly working to undo all of the environmental practices that President Obama and others put into place.
In November, Congress opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas drilling and the Interior Department rolled back the Obama-era rule that would have added regulations for hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking), on federal and tribal land. They also repealed offshore drilling safety regulations that were put into place after the Deepwater Horizon spill.
As one environmental professor and climate change advisor to President Obama said, “Trump is sending a message….[our] land is open for business.”