As the United States’ oil and gas industry begins extracting more and more petroleum and shale, the office the President has set its eyes on a renewed push into the Gulf of Mexico.
On Monday, the Trump administration revived an Obama administration plan to boost offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The proposal — which commences in August — will open up 73 million acres of federal land in five states over the course of the next five years. Those states are: Florida, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke of the plan, “The Gulf is a vital part of that strategy to spur economic opportunities for industry, states and local communities, to create jobs and homegrown energy and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”
Under the guidelines, the lease blocks up for auction will extend up to 230 miles offshore.
The Private Sector Ramps Up
In conjunction with the federal plan, oil and gas giant Exxon Mobile announced their own intentions to invest $20 billion in its Gulf Coast chemical and oil refining plants. The sizable investment is expected to create around 35,000 temporary and 12,000 permanent positions.
At CERAWeek, Exxon Chief Executive Darren Woods said, “Exxon Mobil is building a manufacturing powerhouse along the U.S. Gulf Coast. These businesses are leveraging the shale revolution to manufacture cleaner fuels and more energy-efficient plastics.”
The Environmental Concerns Are Moot
As the oil and gas industry prepares to dive back into the Gulf, some might be concerned about a lingering environmental concern in the region. Over the course of the twentieth century, almost 2,000 square miles of coastline has been lost to erosion. For several years, the oil and gas industry took the blame for that problem.
A recent federal appeals court ruling, however, acquitted ninety-seven oil and gas companies — among them Shell, BP, and Chevron — of any wrongdoing in the erosion of the Louisiana wetlands.
It’s Good News For the Industry, and the Southern United States
The announcement of an increase in oil and gas extraction in the Gulf is undeniably good news. That’s probably why it was brought forth by two successive administrations.
As the United States prepares to become a net exporter of petroleum products, the Gulf Coast region is looking more and more like it could become a pillar of that movement.