Interior opens public review of offshore drilling plan

Interior opens public review of offshore drilling plan
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The Interior Department on Monday began accepting public comments on a new five-year offshore drilling plan, an early step toward rewriting the blueprint for drilling in federal waters.

Interior published a “request for information” in Monday’s Federal Register, seeking comment from the public and stakeholders on the potential for drilling in the 26 areas of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) leased for oil and natural gas production by the federal government.

The 45-day comment period is the first step in the lengthy, years-long process of rewriting the program. The procedure involves assessing the economic and environmental impact of drilling, and the effects it would have on ocean features, wildlife and local communities.

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President Trump announced last Thursday that the public review process would begin this week as part of his agenda of opening up more American offshore areas for oil and gas development. 

“Under the previous administration, so much of our land was closed to development. We’re opening it up. The right areas, we’re opening it up,” Trump said.

“America will be allowed to access the vast energy wealth located right off our shores.”

Trump in April ordered Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeNew policy at Interior's in-house watchdog clamps down on interactions with press Overnight Energy: EPA proposes scrapping limits on coal plant waste | Appointee overseeing federal lands once advocated selling them | EPA lifts Obama-era block on controversial mine Latest appointee overseeing federal public lands once advocated to sell them MORE to reconsider the five-year offshore drilling plan instituted by President Obama last year. Interior said it will implement that plan, which limits lease sales to the Gulf of Mexico and waters off of south-central Alaska, while reviewing and eventually rewriting it. 

Interior has also proposed allowing seismic testing for oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean, the first step toward potential drilling in the area.