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Trump Moves To Vastly Expand Offshore Drilling

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Republican Senators on immigration in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, in Washington.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Republican Senators on immigration in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, in Washington.
Trump Moves To Vastly Expand Offshore Drilling
Trump Moves To Vastly Expand Offshore Drilling GUEST: Keith Schneider, environment reporter, Los Angeles Times

>> I am Alison St. John. Our top story today, the California coast has been off-limits to new oil drilling leases since 1994. This week the administration is proposing to leave the band and offered new drilling leases of the northern, central and southern California coastline. It is part of a proposal by President Trump's secretary of the interior Ryan Zinke he opened the coastal waters to oil drilling. Our guest is Keith Snyder who is Lance correspondent for the LA Times. He has been covering the story. >> The California coast has been off-limits for decades. What is this proposal and what does it mean for California? >> This is an interesting announcement by the Trump administration. It's flamboyant. Like other big announcements, is made with great flourish, it is distress of to them -- disrupted to the max but if you look at it closely, you wonder what does it mean in the real world of energy demand, energy consumption, when and if it actually occurs. Drilling offshore is expensive and difficult. It is not clear how much oil is there. The United States government says there are -- billions and billions of oil reserves available. The reality of drilling anywhere other than the Gulf of Mexico has been released body. In the early 80s, seven oil companies collaborated to drill in the Beaufort Sea, they spent $2 billion to drill their and that is one of the areas that is open to development by the administration. But they did not come up with any oil. 30 years later, Royal Dutch Shell was drilling in the Arctic in an area that the administration wants to open and spent $7 billion and abandoned the effort not only because of civic disruption and protests but because they cannot figure out how to protect their drilling rig from the ice flows that are now much more treacherous in the Arctic due to global climate change. >> I get the picture. >> Not unless the oil climbs two areas or price range where it makes it logistically and financially reasonable. The oil picture globally in the United States, is set -- the cheap oil has been found and produced. Oil that you can tap. Something like $20 per barrel to make money off of it, all those reserves are done. The oil industry is chasing very expensive oil, fracked oil, $60 per barrel. To make it worthwhile. Nail, as oil prices have risen in the United States, the production nationally is going up so in October which is the last month that the Department of Energy took statistics on, in October, the United States produce more oil than at any other time since the 1970s. The bottom line here is that where oil is is on shore not offshore. >> You are making a strong argument from the market perspective, it may not pan out but what about the political perspective? How much control does California have over the position -- Pacific Ocean? >> Politically, it's interesting. This administration aims its political messaging at its base and clearly California is not in its base. So, one could make the argument in announcing the California coast will now be open to drilling, it is snubbing its nose or pointing his fingers right in the eye of California leadership. Actually West Coast leadership. Politically from the start, when this is announced, it was disruptive, but it is among the many big announcements that this administration has made that have been disruptive and one would think from the opposition politically, disturbing right? But for their base, this is something that the base recognizes as another campaign pledge that the president made that the administration is putting into effect >> What will the proposal have to go through to get final approval? >> Oh my goodness. We are talking years and years in the courts. There are big states rights issues here. So the coastal states, all of them oppose this except for Louisiana. Baby Texas as well. All the West Coast, East Coast states including those in the South, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia, they are not at all enthusiastic about drilling off of the coast because of their travel, the lodging, there recreational industry is so much larger than the oil industry will be. >> What has been the political reaction from California? >> Holy negative among the political leadership from Nancy Pelosi to the governor to individual cities. A big thank you but no thank you from the political leadership in California. >> That is key Snyder -- Keith Snyder from the LA Times. >> Inks for having me. >> -- Thank you for having me.

The Trump administration on Thursday moved to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans with a plan that would open up federal waters off the California coast for the first time in more than three decades.

The new five-year drilling plan also could open new areas of oil and gas exploration in areas off the East Coast from Georgia to Maine, where drilling has been blocked for decades. Many lawmakers in those states support offshore drilling, although the Democratic governors of North Carolina and Virginia oppose drilling off their state coasts.

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, also opposes offshore drilling near his state, as do the three Democratic governors on the West Coast.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the plan Thursday, saying that responsible development of offshore energy resources would boost jobs and economic security while providing billions of dollars to fund conservation along U.S. coastlines.

"This is a draft program," Zinke said in a conference call with reporters. "Nothing is final yet, and our department is continuing to engage the American people to get to our final product."

Industry groups praised the announcement, which would be the most expansive offshore drilling proposal in decades. The proposal follows President Donald Trump's executive order in April encouraging more drilling rights in federal waters, part of the administration's strategy to help the U.S. achieve "energy dominance" in the global market.

A coalition of more than 60 environmental groups denounced the plan, saying in a joint statement that it would impose "severe and unacceptable harm" to America's oceans, coastal economies, public health and marine life.


"These ocean waters are not President Trump's personal playground. They belong to all Americans and the public wants them preserved and protected, not sold off to multinational oil companies," read the statement, which was signed by leaders of the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters and other environmental groups.

"This extreme proposal is a shameful giveaway" to the oil and gas industry, which supported Trump in the election campaign, the groups said.

The proposal comes less than a week after the Trump administration proposed to rewrite or kill rules on offshore oil and gas drilling imposed after the deadly 2010 rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The accident on BP's Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and triggered a massive oil spill that continued for months.

RELATED: California Lawmakers Vow To Thwart New Offshore Oil Drilling

The administration called the rules an unnecessary burden on industry and said rolling them back will encourage more energy production. Environmentalists said Trump would raise the risk of more deadly oil spills.

The Obama administration imposed tougher rules in response to the BP spill. The rules targeted blowout preventers, massive valve-like devices designed to prevent spills from wells on the ocean floor. The preventer used by BP failed. The rules required more frequent inspections of those and other devices and dictated that experts onshore monitor drilling of highly complex wells in real time.