Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 4, 2018

Contact: Kristen Monsell, (914) 806-3467,

Trump Proposes Unprecedented Expansion of Offshore Oil Leasing in All Federal Waters

Draft Five-year Plan Opens Previously Protected Areas to Drilling, Could Release 50 Gigatons of Carbon Dioxide Pollution

WASHINGTON— The Trump administration’s draft plan for nationwide offshore oil and gas leases would significantly expand offshore drilling by offering leases in waters off Alaska, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico. If approved, the plan would open up oceans that have largely been off limits to oil drilling, including areas in the Arctic and Atlantic where Trump is trying to revoke permanent protections.

Burning the fossil fuels in these areas would contribute  49.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide pollution, the equivalent of the emissions from 10.6 billion cars driven for a year, deepening the climate crisis, according to an analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity. Opening up new regions to offshore drilling and spilling could also harm endangered species that have recently been in decline, such as North Atlantic right whales and polar bears.

“Trump’s trying to turn our oceans into oilfields. His reckless plan would expose more wildlife and coastal communities to devastating oil spills,” said Kristen Monsell, ocean program legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It would also increase our dependence on dirty energy. People from coast to coast must resist this shortsighted, climate-wrecking giveaway to the oil industry.”

The proposed plan would replace Obama’s 2017-2022 offshore oil and gas program that included 10 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one in Cook Inlet. The Trump administration’s draft proposed plan includes an astounding 47 lease sales from 2019-2024, up from 11 in the current plan. This draft will be subject to a 60-day public comment period before the next draft of the plan is released.

The draft proposal would offer 19 lease sales off the coast of Alaska, including one Arctic Ocean lease sale every year, nine lease sales off the Atlantic coast, and 12 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico, including one in the Eastern Gulf that is under a Congressional moratorium from new leasing until 2022.

The proposal also includes seven lease sales off the Pacific, including off all of California, Washington and Oregon where leasing is opposed by West Coast governors, numerous coastal communities and has not occurred since 1984. Similarly, areas in the Atlantic are on the table despite broad opposition of local communities on the East Coast.

The leases off Alaska include areas that Obama permanently protected from new oil and gas leasing because of their sensitive wildlife and irreplaceable cultural values for Alaska Natives. Trump’s April 28 order attempted to reverse those permanent protections, but the Center and other groups challenged that order with a lawsuit on May 3. That lawsuit is pending in federal court in Alaska.   

“Offshore drilling is dirty and dangerous, and many coastal communities want no part of it. Letting the oil industry loose in our oceans will mean more deadly disasters like the Deepwater Horizon. And when those big oil spills happen in the Arctic, they’ll be impossible to clean up,” Monsell said. “This appalling plan should be a call to action for everyone who wants to move past the dirty energy and politics of the past.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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