Sep 9, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The yin-yang of Trump's drilling policy

donald trump at the podium

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

It would be easy to feel some whiplash over recent Trump administration moves on oil-and-gas industry access — or lack thereof — to areas currently off-limits.

Driving the news: Trump used a Tuesday stop in Florida — a swing state with a huge electoral vote bounty — to announce an order that keeps the eastern Gulf of Mexico off-limits through 2032.

  • Florida's East Coast is a no-go zone too.
  • The same order — reversing earlier administration plans — also bars leasing off the Atlantic shores of Georgia and South Carolina.

The intrigue: The move comes roughly three weeks after the administration touted its plans under a 2017 law to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

  • It's an area where industry interest in expensive, remote projects could prove tepid.
  • Yet the eastern Gulf, adjacent to the heart of the U.S. offshore drilling industry in Louisiana and Texas, has long been coveted by the sector.
  • Oil industry groups, in a somewhat rare split with Trump, yesterday criticized the decision.
  • The politics of Florida drilling have been dicey for decades though amid bipartisan opposition there.

What they're saying: "In our view, the Eastern GOM may have represented the single biggest target of opportunity for offshore drillers," the research firm ClearView Energy Partners said in a note.

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