Washington (AFP) – President Donald Trump’s plans to allow offshore oil drilling along virtually the entire US coastline threaten millions of jobs and billions in economic output, according to a report published Wednesday.
The report could buttress the arguments of local governments which oppose the proposed new drilling, fearful of losses to tourism, fishing and the potential for environmental disasters.
To encourage domestic energy production, the Trump administration said in January it would undo restrictions put in place by the prior administration and allow drilling on more than a billion acres of coastal waters off California, the Eastern Seaboard, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic.
The proposal was welcomed by industry but is fiercely opposed by governors of coastal states, including the Republican governors of Florida and South Carolina. The plan also faces legal challenges.
According to the marine conservation group Oceana, the offshore drilling proposal would endanger more than 2.6 million jobs and nearly $180 billion in economic output for the chance to develop two years’ worth of oil and a year’s worth of natural gas.
“Coastal communities and states are outraged by this radical plan that threatens to destroy our clean coast economies,” Oceana campaign director Diane Hoskins said in a statement.
The report said it derived its figures by analyzing Commerce and Interior Department data on ocean-related employment and GDP as well as estimates of undiscovered oil and gas reserves that are economically recoverable.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced in January that Florida waters would be excluded but analysts say this will strengthen arguments by other states which are also seeking exemptions.
Another senior Interior official testifying before Congress less than two weeks later said no final decision on Florida had in fact been made.
BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest-ever oil spill in ocean waters, drove former president Barack Obama to ban oil drilling across large areas of the Arctic and Atlantic coasts — a legacy Trump is seeking to undo.