Oil

Trump Seeks to Open Up Most U.S. Coastal Waters to Oil Drilling

Activists decry plan as a "shameful giveaway" to Big Oil.

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OilOffshoreDennisThompsonDreamstime
Dennis Thompson/Dreamstime

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced Thursday it is beginning the process of opening up Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, Alaskan and Arctic coastal waters to oil and gas exploration and production.

Opening up the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to more oil and gas production is aimed at the Trump administration's goal of American energy dominance.

The agency proposes to make over 90 percent of the total acreage of the OCS and more than 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available to consider for future exploration and development, according to its official announcement.

In contrast, the Obama administration had earlier put 94 percent of the OCS off limits.

How much oil and gas might be found offshore? The DOI's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) estimates that perhaps 90 billion barrels of oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of natural gas might be technically recoverable offshore. Specifically, the agency estimates reserves of 48.5, 26.6, 10.2 and 4.6 billion barrels of oil in the Gulf, Alaskan, Pacific, and Atlantic coastal waters, respectively.

A recent analysis finds that deepwater drilling in the Gulf breaks even at around $50 per barrel. The current price of crude in the U.S. is just shy of $62 per barrel. Drilling in other coastal water is likely to be significantly higher. For example, the breakeven point for drilling in the Arctic is estimated at about $100 per barrel. Consequently, when the price of oil averaged just over $40 per barrel in 2015, Shell Oil decided to abandon Arctic leases for which it had paid $2.1 billion.

A group of 64 environmental organizations immediately denounced Trump's "radical five-year offshore plan" as "a shameful give-away that would sacrifice coastal communities, its economies, and our publicly-owned ocean waters."

Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida, declared, "Based on media reports, it is likely that the Department of the Interior will consider Florida as a potential state for offshore oil drilling – which is something I oppose in Florida. I have already asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration."

The environmental opponents argue that the costs of offshore drilling outweigh the benefits. One obvious concern is the damage that could be caused by oil spills. A 2017 Congressional Research Service report on oil spills reports—with the notable exception of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blow out – a steady decline in the number and amount of oil spills since the 1970s. Nevertheless, oil companies that might bid for oil and gas leases in the newly opened coastal waters are almost certainly aware that BP ultimately paid nearly $62 billion in fines and cleanup costs for the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Signatories including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, the Wilderness Society, and many state league of conservation voter groups argue "the nation can meet its energy needs and grow jobs by investing in clean, renewable domestic sources like wind and solar that never run out," rather than "offshore drilling that puts America and marine life last and the bottom lines of private oil companies first."

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  1. A group of 64 environmental organizations immediately denounced Trump’s “radical five-year offshore plan”

    Since when do environmental groups not like five year plans?

    1. They only like five year plans that come from Gosplan.

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    3. Nobody needs 64 environmental organizations.

  2. Rick Scott, El Salvador del Hockey-Palos

  3. As Sarah Palin says to her husband, drill, baby, drill!

  4. “the nation can meet its energy needs and grow jobs by investing in clean, renewable domestic sources like wind and solar that never run out,”

    We just know it can! If we close our eyes really tight and clap as hard as we can we know it will work!

    1. Supporters of renewable energy have good intentions, and anyone who disagrees has bad intentions. Why do you want to destroy the planet?

      1. Why don’t you want to destroy the planet?

        Reminder: humans live there.

      2. The thing is I half agree with them about the renewable energy thing, but instead of laying out a viable plan like incentivising nuclear plants to be built in states (like one was in Georgia not to long ago) or otherwise making private firms invest in alternative energy sources that are more useful than solar and wind are now (like hydroelectric, geothermal etc.), all they seem to do is to want more solar/wild energy generator arrays to be built, which is a massive waste of space relative to the actual amount of energy produced and the cost to actually build such structures. Personally,at this point, I’m fine with offshore drilling since the left can’t give a coherent reason as to why we shouldn’t invest in it seeing that their proposals are much less economically sound and won’t generate any economic growth. Honestly, if the left were serious about climate change, they would look to the free market, not the gov’t, to solve the problem.

        1. The very term ‘renewable energy’ is itself a grand lie. Past that, who really cares?

  5. “the nation can meet its energy needs and grow jobs by investing in clean, renewable domestic sources like wind and solar that never run out”

    I’ve got a grant proposal for $12 million into the DOE for a demonstration project of our Energy Cycle project – generators hooked up to bicycles. Just think – full employment, healthy exercise, clean energy, $12 million for me.

    1. Better yet, just hook a generator up to the perpetual motion machine that is powered by good intentions! Free energy for everyone!

  6. We are the “Saudi Arabia” of coal, natural gas, and now we have more oil than Saudi fucking Arabia as well. It’s damn good to be an American.

    1. Well estimated anyway. Still have to find it, extract it and the price of oil has to rise or the cost of extraction has to decrease. But it is Friday so USA, USA, USA!!!

  7. Activists decry plan as a “shameful giveaway” to Big Oil.

    Yes.

    And?????? Who listens to you “activists(*)”, anyway?

    (*) Marxians whose minds orbit planet Marx, waaaay out there.

  8. The environmental opponents argue that the costs of offshore drilling outweigh the benefits.

    So say the same people who think all businesses care only about the bottom line. Do they not remember how much BP paid for that oil well blowout? Do they think oil companies don’t remember that?

    Hypocrisy, thy name is rent-seeking statist-loving nannies.

    1. “The environmental opponents argue that the costs of offshore drilling outweigh the benefits.”

      It’s true because somebody said it. If they say it really loudly and really often, it will be even more super serial true.

      1. Doesn’t matter whether either statement is true (businesses are greedy; costs outweigh benefits). What matters is they said both opposing statements, illustrating hypocrisy.

        1. They mean the costs to “society” outweigh the benefits to “society”. That’s how enviros roll.

          1. And the lawsuits from the BP gulf spill were how society recovered those costs. My point is that they are hypocrites, not how society’s costs were recovered. It doesn’t matter how those enviros measure costs, they are hypocrites.

            1. You’re preaching to the choir. This is all about Gaia is good, technology is bad. Economic analysis is both yucky and irrelevant in that world.

    2. So they are arguing that this isn’t a big issue because with the current price of oil no company is going to start drilling because the costs of extraction far outweighs the return on investment. Or do they all of sudden think big oil doesn’t put profits before people?

    3. “The environmental opponents argue that the costs of offshore drilling outweigh the benefits.”

      Well, yeah, when the “costs” include the risk of billions of dollars in fines (WTF?!), they have a point.

  9. Drill baby, drill, and make America great again.

    By the way, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I could sure go for some “global warming” right about now. It’s the freaking coldest I can ever remember it being since about some time in the late ’70s!

    1. By the way, I can’t speak for anyone else

      You got that right.

    2. A little less cold would be nice. But I’m digging this snow storm.

    3. ” It’s the freaking coldest I can ever remember it being since about some time in the late ’70s!”

      Every year is the hottest year ever since years were measured for hotness, so of course the 70’s were the last time it was cold.

  10. “the nation can meet its energy needs and grow jobs by investing in clean, renewable domestic sources like wind and solar that never run out,”

    These are the same people that are closing nuclear and coal plants to please the gods of their religion and raise your energy bills sky high. Do not trust them, for they are foolish and deceitful. And lying liars.

  11. There should be a tax on this oil with the proceeds going to help relocate the tens of millions of people who will be displaced by rising sea levels thanks to us.

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