February 1, 2018
A draft proposal released by the Trump administration includes 47 potential Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas lease sales, including 19 off the coast of Alaska and seven in the Pacific region.
The announcement on Jan. 4 was hailed by Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and Alaska’s congressional delegation as an important step forward in allowing the state to responsibly develop its natural resources, create jobs and strengthen the nation’s energy security.
His detractors go to great pains to paint President Donald Trump as irrational or unreasonable, and almost every newscast opens with a story about one of the President’s tweets (a tweet is a 144-character electronic message on the social media site Twitter).
It wasn’t surprising to find that 37 US Senators, including two each from Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington, had signed a letter criticizing the OCS proposal as a “misuse of taxpayer funds and agency resources,” and claiming that further fossil fuel extraction would bring “rising sea levels, coastal erosion and increased storm surges and flooding.”
From Hawaii, Senator Brian Schatz says, “almost 90 percent of projected emissions in 2018 will come from oil production and existing natural gas production,” and his associate Mazie Hirono, declares, “Republicans are living in an alternative universe.”
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden criticized the “scheme to drill for oil in the arctic National Wildlife Refuge and destroy one of the last pristine landscapes on Earth.”
Said his colleague, Senator Jeff Merkley, “I, as a Senator from Oregon, deeply resent folks fighting for the oil industry who are trying to damage the health of my constituents.”
“If all Americans kept their tires properly inflated,” says California’s Dianne Feinstein, “in 25 days you could save all of the oil that is present off of the West Coast.”
California’s Kamala Harris, says “This is an incredibly harmful move by an Administration that is already doing everything it can to wreak havoc on our environment.”
Washington Senator Patty Murray says the plan is “outrageous and wrong, and once again demonstrates exactly what this Administration stands for: Big Oil and the relentless pursuit of profit, no matter what it may mean for our environment, public health, economy, or the many, many people who want their pristine coasts preserved.”
Her colleague Maria Cantwell, the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, says, “If people want to open the wildlife refuge, you should just admit you are going to destroy the wildlife refuge. I think it is one of the most unbelievable things that we have on planet earth, not just the United States, on planet earth, it is that intact.”
While this proposal seems to have taken these 37 Democrat Senators by surprise, it was a long time coming.
In April, 2017 the President issued an executive order on an “America-First” offshore energy strategy. The order, reversing the Obama administration’s December 2016 (post-election) arctic leasing ban, directed Interior Secretary Zinke to allow responsible development of offshore areas.
“This is a great day for American workers and families, and today we’re unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying American energy jobs,” president Trump said. “Our country is blessed with incredible natural resources, including abundant offshore oil and natural gas reserves. But the federal government has kept 94 percent of these offshore areas closed for exploration and production. And when they say closed, they mean closed.”
President Trump noted that the ban “deprives the country of potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth.” He added that the order would “bring revenue to our Treasury and jobs to our workers,” and said Secretary Zinke would also be reconsidering burdensome regulations that slow job creation.
“Finally,” said the President, “this order will enable better scientific study of our offshore resources and research that has blocked everything from happening for far too long.”
The proposal fulfills that order, and simply provides a basis for conducting further analysis and a mechanism for gathering additional information for the Secretary to consider in making future decisions.
Seems pretty rational and reasonable to us.