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Even Oil Industry Doesn't Want Trump To Open Up Marine Sanctuaries

| Mark J. Palmer
Topics: Cetacean Habitat

A funny thing happened to President Donald Trump and his pro-oil industry administration on the way to opening up National Marine Sanctuaries to oil drilling – the industry has said “Thanks, but no thanks.”

According to a new Reuters story, “neither (the oil or wind energy) industry is interested because of the high costs of offshore development, comparatively rich opportunities on land and the public relations headaches of developing protected oceanscapes.”

Yes, the oil industry is turning down the opportunity to enter these protected areas along our coast. It isn’t worth the hassle.

Of course, when these Marine Sanctuaries were first established, the potential for oil and gas drilling loomed large in consideration of the boundaries.  In California for instance, only minor areas that might bear some oil-bearing sediments were identified as protected.  California’s major offshore oil resource – the Santa Barbara Channel, was already being exploited (leading to the devastating 1968 Santa Barbara oil spill).  

The new wind energy business is a possible contender, but again the rough California coast is not the best place to put wind energy turbines out at sea.

"The American Wind Energy Association is not advocating for re-visiting any (marine sanctuary) designations," Evan Vaughn, spokesman for AWEA, told Reuters. "In general, the designations have not been a barrier to offshore wind development."

The US Department of Commerce, which manages the US Marine Sanctuary program, is scheduled to release a report on possible shrinkage of the boundaries of marine sanctuaries for the express purpose of energy development next month.  Thousands of comments flooded into the office when the proposal was first announced in a Presidential statement signed by Mr. Trump.

But the Trump Administration may well ignore the disinterest of the energy industry.  Gutting environmental protections was a major theme of his presidential candidacy, cloaked in industry-friendly terms like getting rid of “red tape” and “put(ting) the energy needs of American families and businesses first…”

Putting the needs of a clean environment first for our health and safety is not on Trump’s agenda, unfortunately.