Trump signs order aimed at opening Arctic drilling

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President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that would open up areas off the West Coast and the Northeast Unites States to oil drilling.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida did not respond to a request for comment about Trump's executive order. "With approximately 94% of our nation's OCS off limits to offshore production, expanding offshore oil and gas exploration provides tremendous opportunities for creating good-paying jobs and to meet America's ever-growing energy needs with American energy".

Among the key areas to be reviewed: A decision by Obama shortly before he left office to update the federal government's five-year plan to lease offshore areas for new oil drilling.

In this sense, Trump authorizes Zinke to consider the possibility of repealing or changing "onerous regulations that delay the creation of employment".

Environmental activists, meanwhile, railed against the signing, which comes seven years after the devastating 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Trump called his executive action "another historic step" toward increased domestic energy production.

In March 2016, the Obama administration removed the Atlantic Ocean from lease sales in the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which is under the auspices of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and required by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

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Last November, then-President Obama signed a raft of measures created to protect as much of the environment - and the planet - as possible from pollution and fossil fuel extraction. Environmental groups are already saying the order is illegal, and it's nearly certain it will be challenged in court, like several other orders Trump has signed.

Obama also quadrupled in size Hawaii's Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, an area that stretches over vast sections of coral reef and relatively undisturbed ocean northwest of Hawaii that former President George W. Bush first set aside as a monument.

The administration can redo the 5-year-plan, but it's a long process. The law that gives the president the authority to impose a drilling ban does not say whether the action can be undone by another president.

FILE - In this May 14, 2015 file photo, the oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer is towed toward a dock in Elliott Bay in Seattle. This review is likely to result in a relaxation of the strict protections the previous administration put on offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic and in the Arctic.

Trump's order also directed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to conduct a review of marine monuments and sanctuaries designated over the past 10 years. The existing plan protecting certain areas is "an imminently sensible choice given the environmental and social risks of leasing in these areas", she said.

"It's not quite as simple as the president signs something and it undoes the past", said Sean Hecht, a University of California, Los Angeles environmental law professor.

"California's iconic coastal and marine waters are one of our state's most precious resources, and as elected officials, it is our duty to ensure the long-term viability of California's fish and wildlife resources, and thriving fishing, tourism and recreation sectors", de León said.

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