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Thomas Gallatin / Jan. 5, 2018

Trump Drills Another Obama Regulation

He reverses the moratorium against developing new energy-extracting sites in the nation's coastal waters.

Acting to reverse yet another one of Barack Obama’s onerous policies, President Donald Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a new plan to open up more than 90% of the U.S.‘s Outer Continental Shelf to potential oil drilling and energy development. Recall back in 2010, following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Obama enacted severe restrictions on offshore drilling, essentially prohibiting energy extraction on 94% of the Outer Continental Shelf. It was classic Obama, never letting a crisis go to waste. He took advantage of an uncommon disaster as a pretext for aggressively pushing his leftist economic and climate agenda under the guise of needing to protect the environment. Obama’s decision negatively impacted the nation’s economy as well as the federal government’s coffers. From 2008 to 2016, the fed saw a drop from $18 billion down to $2.8 billion in offshore activities tax revenue.

In announcing the policy change, Zinke said, “We’re embarking on a new path for energy dominance in America, particularly on offshore. This is a clear difference between energy weakness and energy dominance. We are going to become the strongest energy superpower.” The Interior Department then announced that it would hold at least 47 lease sales between 2019 and 2024, the majority of which would be off the coast of Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico. The proposal would also free up the waters off the California coast, which have been closed to drilling since 1969.

From a national security and economic stand point, Trump’s good move will benefit the country. It would significantly further the U.S.’s move toward energy independence, stimulate more economic growth and increase government revenue. However, politically speaking, it will be met with some resistance. Already, two Florida Republicans, Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio, have pushed back on the plan, requesting that Florida’s coastal waters remain under Obama’s moratorium. North Carolina has also responded coldly to the news. The reality is that both these states rely heavily on coastal tourism and fear the potential economic consequences from negative public perception of offshore energy drilling.

But the fact remains that reversing Obama’s extreme moratorium does not change the fact that the U.S. has the world’s most stringent regulations when it comes to offshore drilling. Trump is simply seeking to level the playing field for the energy industry, which Obama had gone out of his way to actively stack the deck against.

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