The Trump administration is apparently still smarting from the decision handed down in late March by a federal judge in Alaska to reinstate the Obama administrations policies that put the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea, part of the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea and a large swath of Atlantic Ocean off the U.S. East Coast off-limits to oil leasing.
Trump’s newly appointed Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt reportedly told the Washington Post the decision is in part a response to U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason’s decision in March that successfully blocked Trump’s executive order to expand oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, reports ABC News.
In the Wall Street Journal interview, Bernhardt said the administration is waiting on an appeals court decision before deciding to move forward with any additional drilling plans.
“By the time the court rules, that may be discombobulating to our plan,” Bernhardt told the Journal. “What if you guess wrong? … I’m not sure that’s a very satisfactory and responsible use of resources.”
Atlantic oil drilling has a lot of opponents
The March decision to uphold the ban on oil and gas drilling and seismic testing in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans received great applauds, not only from conservation and environmental groups but many elected officials as well, reports The Hill.
For example, oil and gas drilling around Florida’s coastlines would be permanently banned under legislation U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston introduced this week. Two other original cosponsors of the legislation are U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, a Gulf Coast Republican, and U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat who represents part of Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys, according to the Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Wasserman, one of Florida’s most prominent liberal members of Congress is also joined by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Panhandle Republican and one of the state’s most prominent conservatives and a strong ally of President Donald Trump. So it looks like it is a bipartisan movement against offshore drilling.
And Florida is not the only state that is up in arms over Trump’s move to resume drilling in the Atlantic. At least 16 coastal South Carolina cities and towns, the state chamber of commerce and the Coastal Conservation League filed a lawsuit against the federal government in early December over the decision to approve oil exploration permits in the Atlantic.
South Carolina Democratic Representative Joe Cunningham has proposed two bills related to offshore drilling and testing since taking office — one a 10-year moratorium and one a permanent ban. “This fight is far from over,” Cunningham said. “We need legislation to permanently ban offshore oil and gas drilling and make sure that no administration can put our communities at risk.
Henry McMaster, South Carolina’s Republican Governor, and ardent Trump supporter is more aligned with the opposition in South Carolina and Cunningham, in particular. “South Carolinians can remain confident that we will continue our efforts to protect our pristine coastline and invaluable tourism industry from the destructive threats of seismic testing and offshore drilling,” he said