Those waiting for Trump to irritate the Left with another executive order may not have to wait much longer.
According to Bloomberg, Trump is preparing to open the door to oil companies for more offshore drilling with an upcoming executive order.
The coming order is set to push the Interior Department to schedule sales of new offshore oil and natural gas rights in U.S. Atlantic and Arctic waters, amending a five-year Obama administration leasing plan that left out auctions there, according to an industry representative who has discussed it with officials.
The order is also expected to begin the process of revoking former President Barack Obama’s decision to indefinitely withdraw most U.S. Arctic waters and some Atlantic Ocean acreage from future leasing.
This decision will be celebrated by those that have long touted the potential benefits of offshore drilling.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke stated in March, that “opening more federal lands and waters to oil and gas drilling” was a pillar of Trump’s plan to make the United States “energy independent.”
Economist Nicholas Loris of Heritage argued in 2011 that offshore drilling would also be a great catalyst for job creation and revenue creation:
An abundance of untapped energy lies beneath America’s ground and off the coasts. According to a new study from energy consultant Wood Mackenzie, allowing access to domestic resources and imports of Canadian oil would generate more than 1 million jobs by 2018 and more than 1.4 million jobs by 2030. The federal government would stand to benefit tremendously as well, collecting more than $36 billion as soon as 2015 and more than $800 billion by 2030. Also by 2015, an additional 1.3 million barrel of oil equivalents (boe) would reach the market, increasing to 10.4 million boe by 2030.
Heritage and others also state that there is an environmental benefit to offshore drilling in “the reduction of oil and gas seepage due to decreases in subsea oil-reservoir pressure.”
However, progressive environmentalists argue that offshore drilling contributes to climate change.
Trump may find that his executive order on offshore drilling will face legal opposition that is tough to penetrate.
[T]he Trump administration faces a bigger challenge in attempting to undo Obama’s decision to remove roughly 125 million Arctic acres and nearly 4 million acres in the Atlantic Ocean from future oil and gas leasing. Obama formalized those withdrawals by invoking an obscure provision in a 1953 law that does not explicitly give presidents the power to reverse previous designations.
Some believe that a Trump challenge of Obama’s decision will die in the courts.
“The administration can stare all day at the statute Obama used to protect large parts of the Arctic and Atlantic, but they won’t find a syllable allowing Trump to revoke those protections. Neither will the courts,” said Niel Lawrence, Alaska director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“It’s hard to imagine riskier, more expensive or time-consuming places to look for oil,” Lawrence said by email. “It would be an extraordinary misuse of public dollars and agency resources to try to open them up now.”
Lawrence may well be right that a protracted legal battle awaits Trump and others looking to see Obama’s obstacle against offshore drilling overturned.
After all, as anyone who has been following Trump’s executive orders on immigration will attest, the opinion of even a single judge or two can be formidable.
However, if this executive order ultimately ends up in the Supreme Court, progressives may find that with Neil Gorsuch now on the Supreme Court, the court may not be a very sympathetic home for the progressive environmentalist agenda.