By Daniel Ritz
On Jan. 4, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released the Trump Administration’s long-awaited offshore drilling proposal. The “2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program” released by the Bureau of Energy Management (BOEM) outlines 47 individual lease tracts along the outer-continental shelf spanning the entire U.S. coastline.
Zinke, in a meeting with the press, said this plan would put “more than 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available to consider for future exploration and development.” As things stand now, 94 percent of those resources are off-limits, he said.
This proposal lifts a ban on offshore drilling in the United States that was enacted by former President Barack Obama near the end of his term and opens up leasing off the California coast for the first time since 1969.
It faces an uphill battle before it would result in actual leasing. Pacific coast state governors announced their united opposition to reopening the Pacific coast to offshore drilling in a joint-statement.
“This is something that all Californians are against,” said Jennifer Savage, California policy manager for the Surfrider Foundation. “This is something that crosses party lines.”
Dayna Bochco, chairwoman of the California Coastal Commission voiced similar bipartisan.
Savage said the 380-page program outlines two areas to be opened for lease off the Southern California region in 2020. Those areas have yet to be specifically defined.
California largely controls coastal waters up to 3 miles off of the coast. Beyond that, much of the control switches to the federal government under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act. States still have some input over what happens in federal waters, but it is not an absolute veto.
More information on Surfrider Foundation’s South Orange County Chapter can be seen at www.southoc.surfrider.org.Readers can view the BOEM draft proposed program at www.boem.gov/NP-Draft-Proposed-Program-2019-2024/