Trump Pushing Offshore Oil Drilling Expansion To After 2020 Election, Sources Say

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Bloomberg reports that the Trump administration is pushing its offshore oil expansion plans until after the 2020 election. According to two unknown sources, the decision is in response to opposition from coastal Republications in the southeast U.S. and a legal defeat.

While the plan aims to expand oil drilling into the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific oceans, the Trump administration is reportedly worried that this will harm support for Trump, as well as Republican leaders in the southeast U.S. Not only that, but a March 29 court ruling by an Alaska judge found that Trump exceeded his legal authority with his attempts to resume gas and oil leasing in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans — regions that former President Barack Obama tried to protect.

“Given the recent court decision, the department is simply evaluating all of its options to determine the best pathway to accomplish the mission entrusted to it by the president,” Interior spokeswoman Molly Block said.

In recent years, Democrats have capitalized on growing opposition to offshore drilling. For example, freshman Representative Joe Cunningham, a Democrat from South Carolina, who won his bid for house last year, focused on offshore drilling during his battle against Republican incumbent Mark Sanford.

Bloomberg reports that the issue is also placing stress on Republican lawmakers seeking re-election. One such lawmaker is Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who is pressing the Trump administration for more concrete details on how it plans to protect coastal communities during its offshore oil expansion.

Kevin Curtis, executive director of the NRDC Action Fund, an affiliate of the Natural Resources Defense Council, believes that Trump’s offshore drilling plan is detrimental.

“Bipartisan opposition to offshore drilling from a growing number of local, state and federal officials across America has made this a political loser for President Trump, and he knows it.”

“Every candidate for federal office in 2020 will be asked whether they stand with Trump and the oil companies or with the families, business owners, and local officials who oppose the expansion of dirty, dangerous and climate-wrecking drilling off our beaches,” he added.

But environmentalists still aren’t satisfied and believe the Trump administration should entirely forgo offshore drilling. Jacqueline Savitz, chief policy officer at the conservation group Oceana, believes that while there is enough opposition to slow down Trump’s plans for offshore drilling, his administration is positioned to continue with their plans at any moment.

Regardless, Mike Sommers, the president of the American Petroleum Institute, says that the eastern gulf is an important basin that has given them lots of success until now, suggesting that the fight is far from over.