The Trump Administration’s latest plan to open vast swaths of coastal waters to gas and oil drilling faces an uphill battle in Congress and the courts, and in the states. And that’s a good thing.
The Interior Department released a new plan last week that would allow offshore gas and oil drilling in most U.S. continental-shelf waters, including portions of the Atlantic and the Arctic that are now protected.
In the plan released by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, drilling could be expanded in those oceans, as well as the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. The department has specifically identified 47 offshore areas where energy companies would be allowed to buy leases for drilling. The program would begin in 2019 and continue through 2024.
Gas and oil companies cheered the news, predictably. The plan makes good on a Trump campaign promise from 2016.
Governors and other state officials — both Democrats and Republicans — in coastal states were another matter. Many have vowed to fight the plan, calling it a threat to the environment and the economy alike.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican and ally of President Trump, blasted the proposal in a letter to the Interior Department last year, saying it threatened his state’s $44 billion beach tourism industry that employs 300,000 people.
The delight of gas and oil drilling companies aside, the plan to expand offshore drilling cannot be justified. There is no oil shortage that requires more drilling. In fact, the price of oil is low because other energy sources that do not require offshore drilling — such as natural gas — are abundant.
Even if the United States were experiencing an energy shortage, offshore drilling would not be the best solution. It is expensive, dangerous, and poses unacceptable risks to the environment. Drilling risks oil spills and explosions like the BP disaster of 2010, which fouled the Gulf of Mexico for years.
Conservative values — the ones the Trump Administration claims to champion — surely include conservation of the earth and its resources, water being No.1. We have only one planet. It is conservative, and sane, to want to preserve it.
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