Last November, then-President Obama signed a raft of measures designed to protect as much of the environment – and the planet – as possible from pollution and fossil fuel extraction. To wit, he banned offshore oil drilling in the Arctic until at least 2022.
President Trump, a man whose idea of environmental protection means building a sea wall around his own golf course, has been slowly tearing down Obama-era measures in this regard via executive orders. Just in the last few days, he signed another aimed at reducing restrictions on oil drilling in both the Arctic and the Atlantic in order to “unleash American energy.”
This sounds like a reversal of Obama’s legislation, and it effectively is – but don’t worry, fans of the environment, because it’s not going to be that simple for the Trump administration.
Shortly after the signing, officials told reporters that it would admittedly take several years for these ecologically sensitive areas to be put up for auction. The demand to drill in these waters is also not what it used to be, thanks to increasing awareness of the environmental risk, as well as the clear shift in the market from oil and coal to natural gas and renewable sources of energy.
So, for now, Obama’s measures stand – as legal experts correctly predicted back when they were announced, it would take some severe legal wrangling to undo them.
This new executive order was part of Trump’s so-called “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy”, which posits that allowing drilling in federally-owned waters will give the US a better shot at full energy independence, as well as creating a wealth of new jobs. As arguments go, this one’s pretty flimsy even for the disorderly Trump administration.
Firstly, the renewable sector is providing up to five times as many jobs in America as the oil and coal industries are. The solar workforce in the US alone grew 25 percent from 2015 to 2016, and wind jumped up by 32 percent in the same time period.
If Trump’s looking for job numbers, he should invest in renewables, not oil. It would also ensure the country is more on track for energy independence because the Sun won’t run out of energy, and we’ll always have wind. Fossil fuel’s days are numbered.
Most significantly, the American public doesn't even want this drilling to take place – at least two-thirds of them, anyway. Let’s hope that when they get the chance to they register this discrepancy in the voting booth.
[H/T: BBC News]