President Trump issued an executive order on Friday directing the Departments of Interior and Commerce to “encourage energy innovation, exploration, and production” in U.S. offshore areas including the Arctic outer continental shelf. As appropriate, and to the “maximum extent permitted by law,” the departments are to consider accelerating offshore oil and gas lease sales, streamline permitting for privately-funded research on offshore energy resources, refrain from designating or expanding marine sanctuary areas absent full accounting of potential energy resources, and suspend, revise, or rescind several Obama administration policies restricting offshore energy development.
The E.O. begins by making the case that offshore energy development is a critical U.S. national interest:
Increased domestic energy production on Federal lands and waters strengthens the Nation’s security and reduces reliance on imported energy. Moreover, low energy prices, driven by an increased American energy supply, will benefit American families and help reinvigorate American manufacturing and job growth. Finally, because the Department of Defense is one of the largest consumers of energy in the United States, domestic energy production also improves our Nation’s military readiness.
At a White House press conference, President Trump explained the difference between his offshore energy agenda and that of his predecessor:
This is a great day for American workers and families, and today we’re unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying American energy jobs. Our country is blessed with incredible natural resources, including abundant offshore oil and natural gas reserves. But the federal government has kept 94 percent of these offshore areas closed for exploration and production. And when they say closed, they mean closed.
This deprives our country of potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth. I pledged to take action, and today I am keeping that promise.
This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration. It reverses the previous administration’s Arctic leasing ban. So hear that: It reverses the previous administration’s Arctic leasing ban, and directs Secretary Zinke to allow responsible development of offshore areas that will bring revenue to our Treasury and jobs to our workers. (Applause.) In addition, Secretary Zinke will be reconsidering burdensome regulations that slow job creation.