Trump Offshore Drilling Plan Opens Almost Entire U.S. Coastline To Oil and Gas Companies

January 4, 2018, 9:11 PM UTC

The Trump administration plans to allow oil drilling in nearly all waters off the U.S. coast, according to a proposal unveiled Thursday.

The Trump offshore drilling plan would let oil suppliers drill in protected areas of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans — places where governors, attorneys general and lawmakers along the East and West Coasts oppose offshore drilling.

Offshore drilling stocks, other oil and gas stocks and oil prices rose following the Trump news Thursday afternoon. West Texas Intermediate, a benchmark for oil prices, went up 0.4% following the announcement. Offshore drilling companies Noble Corp. and Ensco saw shares rise 0.2% and 0.21%.

“We want to grow our nation’s offshore energy industry, instead of slowly surrendering it to foreign shores. We will produce enough energy to meet our needs at home, and we will export enough energy to lead the world,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who is leading the proposal, said in a conference call with reporters.

The Obama administration considered opening some of the affected areas to oil exploration, but abandoned the idea in 2016 because of concerns from states, coastal residents and the military, which uses waters that would be affected.

That plan was nowhere near as broad in scope as the new Trump oil drilling proposal, which would make available drilling rights in more than 90% of the continental shelf. Only one out of 26 planning areas across the Pacific, Atlantic and Artic Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico would be totally off limits to oil drilling.

President Donald Trump’s decision will likely spark protests from and legal battles with environmentalists and other opponents of offshore drilling. Republican and Democratic governors of Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina, North Carolina, Delaware and Florida all opposed the proposal, the Washington Post reported, with many citing billion-dollar tourism industries dependent on their states’ coastal beaches.