The Trump administration’s plan to expand offshore drilling across 90 percent of the outer continental shelf is facing fierce opposition. Political leaders in virtually every coastal state where this potential energy exploration would be taking place are reacting quickly to fight it. It appears Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has marching orders and his mind set on energy dominance, but at what cost? Is the potential for cheaper gas prices at home worth the worst-case scenario?
The idea of true energy dominance would make any patriot optimistic. Energy is not a bad thing and neither is progress in the global energy market. The administration feels that offshore oil drilling will create a significant economic surge, create jobs and simultaneously help ween us off of our overdependence on the Middle East’s oil — a region that has had the U.S. “over a barrel” for far too long. Lowering our dependence on foreign energy would undeniably be a great thing for America.
Unless, of course it led to another catastrophe like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. That, at the end of the day, is the issue for states in America’s coastal regions. Really everywhere except Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott was able to get the Sunshine State removed from the administration’s offshore energy plan. Perhaps a perk for being one of the first big states to back then-candidate Trump? Possibly due to money raised? Perhaps Florida is just lucky to have a governor who gets things done.
For these coastal states, the ocean and its beaches are nearly everything: their livelihoods, environment, economies, where they get food and where children young and old play. The majestic coastal U.S. are truly some of the most breathtaking locations in all of America. You cannot put a price on your home. Could you imagine Lobster season wiped out in Maine? Tar balls on the revitalized beaches of New Jersey? New Orleans could not survive another oil spill. That is how these states see it. Survival. And that will be the difference.
The bipartisan bonding being created between Republicans and Democrats is truly remarkable. In this ultra-politically charged climate, the fact offshore drilling has stayed out of the partisan fray speaks volumes about its importance. Numerous states have already started creating laws to protect themselves by prohibiting oil exploration activities in state waters and in some states barring the transportation through state waters. Both of which buy a geographic buffer and time.
The states are slowing down the feds. Add to the mix looming tariffs on certain international products, sprinkle in mid-term elections and zero political appetite by either party in any of the coastal states. Then consider the speed at which the federal government moves is glacial.
All of this adds up to my crystal ball predicting we don’t see anything significant on this existential issue, if at all, until after Nov. 6, 2018.