Trump Signs Executive Order Expanding Offshore Drilling, Puts Communities at Risk

For Immediate Release

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Contact: 

Lindsay Meiman, lindsay@350.org

Trump Signs Executive Order Expanding Offshore Drilling, Puts Communities at Risk

Order could direct agencies to re-do the 5-year-plan that prevented Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic drilling

WASHINGTON - Ahead of the Peoples Climate March and nearly 7 years to the day since the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Trump administration issued an executive order today directing federal agencies to revise the 5-year-plan for offshore drilling previously approved by the Obama administration. The order could expose the Atlantic, the Pacific, and Arctic coasts, which are excluded from the current plan, to future drilling.

On the Arctic, Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts, communities have been working for years to stop offshore drilling, citing the impact of fossil fuels on health, safety, and the climate. Accidents like the massive BP Deepwater Horizon disaster have devastated coastal communities and led to lasting struggles for local economies. At a time when our climate can’t afford any new fossil fuel infrastructure, opening more waters to offshore drilling would exacerbate the climate crisis and drive up the risk of disaster.

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Quote Sheet:

Trip Van Noppen, Earthjustice President, said: “When President Obama withdrew irreplaceable and sensitive waters of the Arctic Ocean and important parts of the Atlantic Ocean from offshore drilling, it was a bold step in protecting these seas for our future and girding the global community against the worst effects of climate change. Any attempt to reopen these areas or expand offshore drilling elsewhere would be a step backward on climate progress, and would once again put coastal communities, irreplaceable wildlife, and our shared future at risk.”

Rhea Suh, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “This dangerous move is nothing more than a sellout to big oil and gas we’ve seen so much of in Trump’s first 100 days. The American people don’t want to abandon our oceans, coastal communities and all they support to industrial pollution and the peril of another BP oil spill catastrophe. They want these waters safeguarded. Attempting to open them to drilling chains us to dirty fossil fuels of our past and all the hazard, harm and climate damage they bring. Equally important, the president cannot, just by a stroke of his pen, with the stroke of his pen reverse the permanent, and legal, protection currently extended to these areas of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. We—and thousands that will march on Saturday for climate action—will fight this move, for our children’s future and a livable world.”

Patrick Carolan, Executive Director of the Franciscan Action Network, said: "Each time President Trump signs an executive order like this one, which could potentially lead to significant increases in offshore drilling and oil and gas exploration, he is sending a clear message that the welfare of people and the planet is not important to him. With the climate in an increasingly fragile state, and millions of the world's inhabitants already vulnerable to extreme weather and the food insecurity, homelessness, and disease that comes along with it, continued fossil fuel extraction is the most dangerous move we can possibly make. And yet, President Trump continues to roll out executive orders that support his dangerous agenda. As Franciscans, our call is to be stewards of this earth, to care for the least among us, and so our faith impels us to push back against regulations that threaten the health of people and our planet, as this latest executive order so clearly does."

Nancy Pyne, Climate and Energy Campaign Director at Oceana, said: “This latest executive order is yet another indication that the Trump administration is committed to doubling down on dirty and dangerous oil and gas development, instead of moving America towards clean energy alternatives like offshore wind. Coastal communities have made it clear—they are not willing to trade their thriving tourism and fishing-based economies for the false promises of the oil industry. As of today, more than 120 municipalities, over 1,200 elected officials, and an alliance representing over 35,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families have publicly opposed offshore drilling and/or exploration along the East Coast. On the eve of the People’s Climate March, as the specter of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster looms large, it is more important than ever to make sure that these voices are heard in Washington.”

Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said: “The American people have made it loud and clear that they oppose offshore drilling. It is simply not worth the risk to our precious coastal environments and economies. At a time when our coasts are being battered by sea level rise, we need to be expanding our clean energy economy -- not increasing our reliance on dangerous new sources of fossil fuels.”

May Boeve, 350.org Executive Director, said: “It takes a true climate denier to say that what our disappearing coastlines need are more oil rigs. Trump is trying to lock in decades more of dirty fossil fuel extraction, while science tells us we need to keep it in the ground. Arctic, Atlantic, and Gulf coast communities have fought hard to protect their water, their health, and the climate from Big Oil, refusing to be sacrifice zones. Now it’s even more important for everyone to join the Peoples Climate March, push back on polluting projects like Keystone XL, and build the renewable energy future we need from the ground up.”

Leah Donahey, Senior Campaign Director, Alaska Wilderness League, said: “President Trump’s executive order to expand offshore drilling and potentially reverse protections in America’s Arctic and Atlantic oceans, just gives us one more reason to take to the streets. As we have seen from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, when we drill, we spill and this means disaster for our coastal waters and communities.”

Gene Karpinski, League of Conservation Voters President, said: "Donald Trump is once again showing that his presidency serves the interests of giant oil companies over the health, safety, and future of people across the United States. Allowing Big Oil to expand offshore drilling to the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific Oceans would put coastal economies and ways of life at risk of a devastating oil spill, while worsening the consequences of climate change. We must make smarter energy choices by further investing in clean energy to leave our kids a planet not damaged beyond repair instead of staking our future in places whose oil wouldn't reach consumers for decades.  We will fight any attempt to expand risky offshore drilling.”

Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith, said: “Morally decent leadership means restricting further fossil fuel development - not actively promoting it.  This executive order makes it clear that this administration has the environment, and our shared future, in their crosshairs.”

Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE, said: “This administration has proven time and time again that they have no regard for the wellbeing of people or the earth we inhabit. Increasing off-shore drilling is reckless and has already proven detrimental to the environment and communities on the frontlines of climate change, i.e. low-income communities of color already over burdened by environmental hazards. It’s only been 7 years since the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Have we learned nothing from that catastrophe? We wholeheartedly reject this administration’s executive order on offshore drilling and oil and gas exploration. We are committed to fighting this administration’s war on climate every step of the way.”

Aura Vasquez, Director of Climate Justice at the Center for Popular Democracy, said: "Trump's administration will once again be endangering communities, this time on the Arctic, Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts, all to advance the fossil fuel industry's agenda. Expanding offshore drilling would only bring more pollution and destruction, especially to those communities already feeling the impacts of the climate crisis. We can't let this administration dictate the faith of our planet. We must stand and let the world know that offshore drilling is dangerous and unnecessary. We should be supporting renewable energy infrastructure that can bring about equitable jobs and a healthy environment."

Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA, said: “Opening new areas to offshore oil and gas drilling anywhere risks locking us into decades of harmful pollution, devastating spills, and a fossil fuel economy with no future. Scientific consensus is that the fossil fuel reserves off US coasts must remain undeveloped if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change. This executive order from Trump is just the latest in a series of rollbacks that most people in this country do not want, and they only come at the behest of Trump’s inner circle of desperate fossil fuel executives. Holing up at Mar-a-lago may protect Trump from an oil spill, but it will not protect his disastrous policies from the resistance and rejection of millions of Americans who demand better for themselves and their families.”

Adrienne L. Hollis PhD, JD, Director of Federal Policy, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, said: "Increasing offshore drilling and oil and gas exploration is a recipe for disaster. It will dramatically increase the possibility of damaging health effects in frontline communities from water, soil, and air contamination. This Executive Order is just another in a line of legislative actions designed to strip away any protections communities may have and give more power to fossil fuel companies to control our environment.  In the words of acclaimed American poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer Dr. Maya Angelou “when people show you who they are, believe them (the first time).” The Trump Administration has shown us that they do not care about the welfare of the people.”

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350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet livable for all who come after us.

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