Washington, D.C. — The Trump administration is selling off America’s oceans for oil and gas drilling at the lowest possible prices, increasing the risk of another major spill that could harm marine life, fisheries, and beaches, according to a new column from the Center for American Progress.
Last week, the U.S. Department of the Interior hosted what was billed as the “largest oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history,” offering 77 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas leasing. Yet the administration received bids for just 1 percent of the available area, despite major cuts in royalty rates designed to spur interest.
While the Interior Department tries to put a positive spin on the middling returns from the lease sale, the results demonstrate a federal agenda for America’s oceans in which one special interest—the oil and gas industry—is the only winner and public resources are further devalued.
“The Trump administration’s fire sale on publicly owned natural resources—at the same time as it tries to roll back basic safeguards put in place to prevent the next Deepwater Horizon disaster—is reckless and wasteful public policy,” said Shiva Polefka, associate director for ocean policy at CAP and co-author of the analysis.
The Trump administration has also taken steps to reduce offshore drilling safety and seeks to open more than 90 percent of U.S. federal waters to drilling, including high-risk areas such as the Arctic Ocean and off the shores of Atlantic and Pacific states. Rather than provide sound stewardship of America’s natural resources in accordance with federal law, the Trump administration and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke seem committed to selling off America’s oceans for oil and gas drilling at the lowest possible prices and with a minimum of independent oversight.
Meanwhile, offshore drilling remains profoundly risky for the marine environment, commercial and recreational fisheries, and coastal economies that depend on clean oceans and beaches; more than 334 offshore oil spills have occurred from 2006 TO 2015, in addition to BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.
Read the column: The Fire Sale of America’s Oceans by Shiva Polefka and Matt Lee-Ashley
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