| WASHINGTON, April 28
WASHINGTON, April 28 U.S. President Donald Trump
will sign an executive order on Friday that seeks to expand
offshore oil and gas drilling to areas currently off limits, in
his administration's latest move to expand domestic energy
The order could lead to a reversal of bans on drilling
across swathes of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans and
the U.S. Gulf of Mexico that former President Barack Obama
sought to protect from development.
"It is better to produce energy here than be held hostage by
foreign entities," Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters
on Thursday in a briefing about the executive order, which will
be called the America-First Offshore Energy Strategy.
Trump campaigned on a promise to do away with Obama-era
environmental protections that he said were hobbling energy
development and undermining U.S. national security without
providing any tangible benefits. Industry cheered but
environmental advocates were enraged.
Zinke said the order will require him to review and replace
the Obama administration's most recent five-year oil and gas
development plan for the outer continental shelf, which includes
federal waters off all U.S. coasts.
The order will also reverse Obama's move to place parts of
the Arctic permanently off limits to drilling, and encourage
more seismic surveying to determine which areas are likely to
hold rich reserves of oil and gas.
In addition, under the order Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross
will review previous presidents' designations of marine national
monuments and sanctuaries under the 1906 Antiquities Act over
the last 10 years.
Weeks before leaving office, Obama banned new oil and gas
drilling in federal waters in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans,
protecting 115 million acres (46.5 million hectares) of waters
off Alaska and 3.8 million acres in the Atlantic from New
England to the Chesapeake Bay.
On Wednesday Trump signed a separate order to examine areas
of federally managed land to determine if they were improperly
designated as national monuments by former presidents, rendering
them off limits to development.
Environmental groups, including Oceana and the Center for
Biological Diversity, criticized the new executive order and
promised to fight it in court. They pointed out the order comes
seven years after a large oil spill from a BP platform in
the Gulf of Mexico, which had prompted them to urge a slowdown
in offshore oil development.
Democratic senators also opposed the order, saying it could
threaten the fishing and tourism industries.
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Jeffrey Benkoe)