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Cape Hatteras, oil free as of now. Photo: Lowe-White

Trump to Open East Coast for Oil Drilling?

White House plans to sell Atlantic Coast oil drilling leases

It's expected that sometime this week, the Trump administration will announce a plan to open up the Atlantic Coast for a whole lot more oil and gas drilling. Back in the spring, POTUS signed an executive order telling the U.S. Department of the Interior to poke around and see what could be done to drill, baby drill.

They've recommended that big sections of the Mid-Atlantic and the South Atlantic coasts be opened for drilling, as well as parts of the Gulf of Mexico that are currently off limits, according to Bloomberg and the Chicago Tribune, removed from consideration for fossil fuel production by President Obama.

The Trump White House has, however, implemented an "America First" energy plan which essentially calls for as much oil and gas drilling as is possible. Areas previously protected from drilling and fracking are now considered fair game. Nobody knows how much oil is present off the Atlantic seaboard since there are few drilling operations in existence there and lots of the survey work to establish an idea of what the reserves look like were completed decades ago.

If it's deemed that there are sufficient reserves to drill off the Atlantic coasts, there's little reason to assume the administration will be swayed from its plan for full-bore resource exploitation.

What this means for coastal environment protection and East Coast surfing communities remains unclear. Jobs, possibly. But also the always-present possibilities of mass oil spills and the blight of heavy infrastructure.

“Trump has proven that he is the most anti-environment President in history and with the latest news he is doubling down on that moniker,” Nik Strong-Cvetich of Save the Waves told us. “The short-term gains will threaten long-term fishing, tourism, and of course, surfing resources up and down the Eastern Seaboard.”

The Surfrider Foundation is also closely monitoring the situation.

"Our ocean, waves and beaches are vital recreational, economic and ecological treasures to our coastal communities that will be polluted by new offshore oil drilling, regardless of whether or not there is a spill," said Dr. Chad Nelsen, CEO of Surfrider. "Without a massive mobilization by coastal communities around the country in opposition to new offshore drilling, our voice will be drowned out by the lobbying power of Big Oil in Washington, DC."

If Atlantic areas are opened to drilling there’s every reason to believe drilling will expand along the Pacific coast, as well as the Arctic and Gulf of Mexico.

“It is worth paying attention to as opening up of drilling in the Atlantic could presage a larger push in other areas like the Pacific Coast," Strong-Cvetich said.

If you’re so inclined, as always, call your congressperson. Call often.

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