Grijalva: New Offshore Oil Leasing Plan Means More Environmental Disasters, No Help for Americans at the Pump

Washington, D.C. – The Trump administration’s newly-announced five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing along the entire Atlantic and Pacific coasts, in combination with its efforts to weaken offshore drilling environmental and safety standards, will put every coastal community in America at risk of environmental disaster and do nothing to decrease the price of energy for everyday Americans, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said today. The leasing plan opens all federal U.S. waters except for Alaska’s Bristol Bay to potential oil drilling leases – including areas along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts previously held off limits by both parties.

The announcement comes as the Trump administration just last week formally proposed to repeal the production safety rule put into place after the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon tragedy and oil spill. The administration has also indicated it plans to repeal the well control rule, a move that has already received media scrutiny despite being not yet formally announced.

In addition to rolling back those rules, the administration is moving forward with plans to recombine the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which were split after Deepwater Horizon due to concerns about having the conflicting missions of leasing and safety regulation in the same agency. The idea of recombining the agencies has been strongly opposed by former members of the Presidential Commission that investigated the Deepwater Horizon and by former Interior Department officials.

The five-year plan reverses President Obama’s decision not to expand drilling into Atlantic waters and to put a moratorium on new leasing in the Arctic Ocean. The plan comes on top of the Trump administration’s decision to cut the royalty rate for drilling in shallow waters, incentivizing companies to drill closer to U.S. shorelines. 

“President Trump wants you to know his oil rigs are bigger and work better than anybody else’s,” Grijalva said today. “This will do nothing to put us on a sustainable energy path or decrease prices for Americans. Trump’s plan means more oil drilled here and then sold overseas. Oil companies get the profits while towns from Washington to California and Maine to Florida bear the enormous costs we know are coming.”

In addition to Deepwater Horizon, Grijalva pointed to several recent tragic explosions on offshore facilities – including the Nov 2012 Black Elk platform, the July 2013 Hercules Offshore rig, and the April 2015 Pemex explosion – as proof of the need to maintain rigorous environmental and occupational standards throughout the industry. Trump’s demands to roll back those rules even as millions of new acres of ocean are made available for drilling are deeply irresponsible, he said.

Press Contact

Diane Padilla

(202) 225-6065 or (202) 226-3522