Faith groups ask Trump to stop off-shore drilling plan

Faith groups ask Trump to stop off-shore drilling plan
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Hundreds of church leaders are asking President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand urges opposition to Kavanaugh: Fight for abortion rights 'is now or never' Trump claims tariffs on foreign nations will rescue US steel industry: report Bannon announces pro-Trump movie, operation team ahead of midterms: report MORE and Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Interior drilling auction sees few bids | Big oil targets Florida in offshore drilling fight | Puerto Rico utility says all customers now have power Oil industry targets Florida in new offshore drilling advocacy push Fewer than 1 percent of offshore drilling tracts auctioned by Trump receive bids MORE to halt plans to expand off-shore drilling in public waters because they are "unacceptable risks to God’s oceans and coastal communities."

In a letter sent to Trump and Zinke Thursday, the religious leaders said the drilling plan should be reconsidered as it brings "unacceptable risks to God’s oceans and coastal communities."

"God created the oceans with an abundance of life and, as stewards of God’s earth, we should work to preserve and protect God’s marine creation. As people of faith, we also uphold our duty to love our neighbors. Oceans provide food sources and livelihoods for millions in the U.S. and globally," the letter reads.

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The group of religious leaders, mainly of individual churches representing Catholic, Jewish and evangelical faiths, among others, warned that no drilling company could guarantee the safety of ecosystems and the environment.

"Offshore drilling could produce perilous consequences like oil spills that can poison the God’s oceans, including wildlife and clean water. No oil company or administration can guarantee the safety of drilling offshore," the letter read.

Instead, the group asked Trump to consider renewable energy options like wind and solar and to focus on maximizing energy efficiency in order to increase profits.

Zinke announced in January that the administration would start considering new offshore oil and gas leasing options in public waters. His announcement was met with resistance, including from Republican governors and members of Congress from coastal states.

Since then, Zinke has promised to meet with a number of representatives from states and hold public comment periods, but continues to push the benefits of offshore drilling for American prosperity.

Last week, a federal advisory panel for Interior voted to recommend that the Trump administration cut royalty rates for offshore drillers by one-third.

The panel of officials representing energy companies, state governments, tribes and Interior officials made the recommendation in an attempt to incentivize more production of oil and gas.

However, a number of government leaders were wary of the decision, questioning the administration's desires to lower profit margins while still pushing to expand drilling.

“This proposal would amount to a giveaway to some of the most profitable companies in the world and rob taxpayers of potentially billions of dollars of revenues over the life of the leases,” wrote Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), the top Democrats on the committees overseeing Interior.

“Selling off public land and resources as quickly as possible at fire-sale prices is not good stewardship; it’s a shell game where the oil, gas and coal industries win and the American taxpayers lose,” they said.