Lawmakers push Interior to expand offshore drilling

The Hill | Devin Henry | August 16, 2017

More than 100 lawmakers are urging the Trump administration to consider allowing oil and natural gas drilling in more areas off the coast of the United States.

In a Wednesday letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the members said officials should consider a more expansive drilling programs when it rewrites a five-year leasing outline, a key goal for Zinke and President Trump.

"Just as today's energy security is the result of production set in motion by decisions made years ago, the decisions on [Outer Continental Shelf] leasing and development facing the department today will lay the groundwork for our energy and national security for decades,” said the letter, led by House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and signed by 118 members.

“There is demonstrated interest in the leasing and development of previously excluded areas and we must consider these areas for development to optimize our nation’s resource potential.”

The letter comes as the Interior Department takes public comments on a new leasing plan, including the potential for drilling in all areas currently set aside for oil and gas production in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico.

Under a drilling plan finalized during the Obama administration, only 6 percent of Outer Continental Shelf acreage is available for leasing between 2017 and 2022.The oil sector favors a larger leasing program, but environmentalists have resisted the Trump administration’s efforts to expand drilling.

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