Trump moves to vastly expand offshore drilling


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration today moved to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans with a plan that would open up federal waters off the California coast for the first time in more than three decades.

The new five-year drilling plan also could open new areas of oil and gas exploration in areas off the East Coast from Georgia to Maine, where drilling has been blocked for decades. Many lawmakers in those states support offshore drilling, although the Democratic governors of North Carolina and Virginia oppose drilling off their state coasts.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, also opposes offshore drilling near his state, as do the three Democratic governors on the West Coast.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said responsible development of offshore energy resources would boost jobs and economic security while providing billions of dollars to fund conservation along U.S. coastlines.

"This is a draft program," Zinke said in a conference call with reporters. "Nothing is final yet, and our department is continuing to engage the American people to get to our final product."

Industry groups praised the announcement, which would be the most expansive offshore drilling proposal in decades. The proposal follows President Donald Trump's executive order in April encouraging more drilling rights in federal waters, part of the administration's strategy to help the U.S. achieve "energy dominance" in the global market.

A coalition of more than 60 environmental groups denounced the plan, saying in a joint statement that it would impose "severe and unacceptable harm" to America's oceans, coastal economies, public health and marine life.

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