In a huge reveal today, the Trump administration said it plans to release the largest number of offshore oil and gas lease sales in US history. If approved, it would permit drilling in almost all US continental-shelf waters, including protected areas in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.
The move rolls back a ban on new offshore drilling off the coasts of Florida and California. It also lifts a ban on drilling put in place by the Obama administration that protected more than 100 million offshore acres along the Arctic and Eastern seaboards.
In total, this means more than a billion acres will be considered for oil and gas production. This includes areas where drilling has been blocked for decades.
The draft identified 47 areas for potential oil and gas production, which industry companies can buy leases for between 2019 and 2024.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement the proposal could increase federal revenue by $15 billion.
Only one of 26 planning areas would be off limits to oil and gas exploration. The plan does not include Alaska's Bristol Bay, existing marine sanctuaries, or areas around Hawaii and US territories.
Today's proposal comes after the passing of Congress' tax bill last month that included a decision to open 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas drilling. Not only that, but just two weeks ago the Interior Department suspended a study conducted by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine on the safety of offshore oil and gas drilling platforms.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees offshore leasing, promised that the environment would be protected.
However, current opposition of the proposal cite safety concerns and potential environment impacts like the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010.
New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan (D) tweeted: "Offshore drilling has caused some of the greatest man-made natural disasters of our time."
A coalition of more than 60 environmental groups have denounced the plan, saying it would impose "severe and unacceptable harm" to America's oceans, coastal economies, public health and marine life.