The Trump administration is expected to announce Thursday that it will propose opening up nearly all federal waters for oil and gas drilling, giving the energy industry access to fields in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and the eastern Gulf of Mexico that have been off limits for decades, according to two sources familiar with the plan.
The expansion is likely to trigger huge political backlash, particularly on the West Coast and in Florida, where offshore drilling has generated sharp opposition from residents, environmental groups and businesses who fear a spill like BP’s in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 could devastate beaches and destroy the tourist industry that is vital to the regional economies.
But the announcement of the proposal for a new five-year offshore drilling plan would follow through on President Donald Trump’s pledge to try to drive up U.S. oil production by opening up federal areas to companies seeking to drill.
The Interior Department will unveil the new plan during a conference call Thursday afternoon, the sources said. Interior had planned to make the announcement last month but canceled it shortly before its scheduled start time.
Interior did not immediately respond to questions.