It’s Open Season for Off-Shore Oil
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It’s Open Season for Off-Shore Oil

Trump OKs Drilling in Areas Off Limits for Decades

Oil. The Trump administration wants to open up nearly all our nation’s off-shore areas for oil drilling, a move that would touch every coastal state, some that have been off-limits to drillers for decades. The government would issue the largest number of oil-lease sales in U.S. history starting late next year and open up 90% of offshore areas for drilling as part of a five-year plan.

This would reverse an Obama-era plan that would have kept only 6% of the same acres available for drilling. U.S. oil, gas and coal producers have started exporting more fuel.

The Interior Department recently proposed reversing drilling-safety rules implemented after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident which killed 11 workers on the drilling rig and spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. government hasn’t sold leases for oil drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts in more than 33 years. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, also a Republican, both said they oppose drilling in the waters off of their state. The Democratic governors of California, Oregon and Washington pledged to do “whatever it takes” to stop the drilling.

Native American rights. An escalating battle over Native American voting rights could tip tight races in states with large native populations like Arizona and Alaska and influence matters of national importance like the future of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Native Americans are suing over a new voter identification law in North Dakota where, lawyers say, there is not a single driver’s license site on a reservation in a state that requires identification to vote. In Nevada, a lawsuit forced officials to open new polling stations in tribal areas. In Alaska, where native people make up a fifth of the population, officials recently provided election materials in the Yup’ik, Inupiaq and Gwich’in languages after federal rulings that found the state had failed to provide materials equivalent to those used by English speakers.

Pipeline. Two federal agencies have taken actions that will allow a natural gas pipeline to cross streams and wetlands more than 500 times in southwest Virginia and burrow under the Blue Ridge Parkway. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit that will allow the buried Mountain Valley Pipeline to make 383 stream crossings and 142 passes through wetlands in six counties. The National Park Service granted a right of way for the 42-inch diameter steel pipe to be laid under the Blue Ridge Parkway in Roanoke County. Opponents say the project will contaminate drinking water and destroy environmentally sensitive landscapes.

January 5, 2018