Dems ask for longer comment period on Trump’s offshore drilling plan

Dems ask for longer comment period on Trump’s offshore drilling plan

A group of Senate Democrats is asking the Trump administration to extend the comment period for its controversial offshore drilling plan.

Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellWill Congress act to stop robocalls? Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment Hillicon Valley: Trump reportedly weighing executive action on alleged tech bias | WH to convene summit on online extremism | Federal agencies banned from buying Huawei equipment | Lawmakers jump start privacy talks MORE (Wash.), the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, led 22 colleagues in a Monday letter to Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeBLM issues final plan for reduced Utah monument New 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 MORE seeking the extension.

Friday is the end of a two-month period in which the Interior Department is taking comments on its plan. The plan, released in January, floated drilling almost everywhere it could be legally allowed: along the entire Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts, as well as all around Alaska, except Bristol Bay.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Given the large scope of the Draft Proposed Program, we believe a 60-day extension of the deadline for comments is necessary to allow for more public hearings in coastal areas and to give the public sufficient time to submit comments on offshore drilling proposed for nearly the entire U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), encompassing over 90 percent of total OCS acreage — the largest number of potential offshore lease sales ever proposed,” the Democratic senators wrote.

The lawmakers also criticized the entire public input process, including events Interior has been holding in coastal states, and called for more input opportunities.

“The opportunity for the public to provide input on the Draft Proposed Program is critical given the new, large scope of the Draft Proposed Program and its potential impacts on coastal communities and economies, the marine environment, and climate,” they wrote.

“We do not believe that the 23 currently announced ‘open house’ style meeting are adequate in duration, location, nor format needed to meet the public input requirements.”