Andrew Cuomo called it “another federal assault on our environment” while California’s Jerry Brown vowed to block “this reckless, shortsighted action”.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the plan, saying responsible development of offshore energy resources would boost jobs and economic security while providing billions of dollars to fund conservation along US coastlines.
The plan would open 90 per cent of the nation’s offshore reserves to development by private companies, Mr Zinke said, with 47 leases proposed off the nation’s coastlines from 2019 to 2024. Nineteen sales would be off Alaska, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, nine in the Atlantic and seven in the Pacific, including six off California.
“This is a draft program,” Mr Zinke said. “Nothing is final yet, and our department is continuing to engage the American people to get to our final product.”
A coalition of more than 60 environmental groups denounced the plan, saying it would impose “severe and unacceptable harm” to America’s oceans, coastal economies, public health and marine life.
“These ocean waters are not President Trump’s personal playground. They belong to all Americans and the public wants them preserved and protected, not sold off to multinational oil companies,” read the coalition’s statement, which was signed by leaders of the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters and other environmental groups.
The proposal comes less than a week after the Trump administration proposed to rewrite or kill rules on offshore oil and gas drilling imposed after the 2010 rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Trump administration moved to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans with a plan that would open up federal waters off California for the first time in more than three decades.
The new five-year drilling plan also could open new areas of oil and gas exploration in areas off the East Coast from Georgia to Maine, where drilling has been blocked for decades. While some legislators in those states support offshore drilling, the plan drew opposition from governors up and down the east coast, including Republican governors Rick Scott of Florida and Larry Hogan of Maryland.
Democrat governors on both coasts blasted the plan. New York Governor