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'Belly Flop': With Only One Percent of Leases Sold, Even Fossil Fuel Industry Understands Trump's Offshore Drilling Plan Is Ridiculous

"Even corporate polluters aren't buying what Zinke's selling."

The offshore drilling tracts President Donald Trump had planned to auction off have proved less popular than he imagined, with only about one percent of the leases selling. (Photo: JournoJen/Flickr/cc)

In yet another rebuke to the Trump administration's claims that opening wide swaths of the ocean to the ravages off fossil fuel production is wise or necessary, an auction for more than 14,000 offshore drilling leases on Wednesday received little enthusiasm from oil and gas companies.

The Interior Department managed to sell fewer than one percent of the tracts, making the auction even less successful than its last sale in March, when just over one percent of leases went to buyers.

The sale will bring in $180 million, but with offers from only 30 companies, climate action groups took the largely failed auction as a sign that there is an end in sight for the destructive method of oil extraction, as progressive leaders call for a shift to renewable energy sources.

"When will Ryan Zinke finally get the message that it's time to scrap his reckless offshore drilling plans?" Athan Manuel, director of the Sierra Club's land protection program, said in a statement. "Millions of Americans and elected officials from both sides of the aisle have made it clear that the public does not want dangerous drilling off our coasts, and even corporate polluters aren't buying what Zinke's selling."

Lawmakers and green groups in coastal states have spoken out against President Donald Trump's plan to open U.S. waters to offshore drilling, a practice that has been blamed for dangerous oil spills that have decimated coastal areas and killed marine wildlife, as well as contributing to the climate crisis.

Sixty percent of Americans polled by Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland earlier this year opposed Trump's plan, and 70 percent said states should have the right to refuse drilling off their shores.

Earlier this week, more than 60 cities and counties in California announced their official opposition to drilling off the state's coasts.

"California communities reject offshore drilling and are building a wall of opposition to Trump's reckless agenda," said Blake Kopcho, an organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). "We won't let Trump and his corrupt cronies pollute our coastline with oil spills and toxic fracking chemicals."

The leases sold in Wednesday's auction are in the Gulf of Mexico. The CBD joined other green groups in applauding the Trump administration's failure to sell more leases to corporate polluters—but noted that even the 144 tracts the Interior Department auctioned off have the capacity to damage wildlife habitats and endanger lives as companies extract oil and gas.

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