These areas, according to the Los Angeles Times, have been off limits for drilling since the time of the administration of Ronald Reagan - the United States president between 1981 and 1989. If passed, this would be the largest number of oil and gas lease sales offered in U.S. history.
President Donald Trump's administration has proposed opening up almost all of America's offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, but the industry says it is mainly interested in one part of it, now cordoned off by the Pentagon: the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the new plan Thursday, saying that responsible development of offshore energy resources would boost jobs and economic security while providing billions of dollars to fund conservation along US coastlines. Marcie Keever, FOE oceans and vessels programme director, said: "Climate science is clear that the remaining untapped fossil fuel reserves must be kept "in the ground" if we are to have any chance of leaving a stable climate for future generations". Opening up new oil exploration leases will require completion of an environmental review, which could take a year or longer, and states such as California have some power to complicate if not outright thwart Zinke's proposal.
Pointing to the state's all-important tourism industry and fears of oil washing up on beaches, Florida politicians have long railed against the idea of expanded offshore drilling.
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The proposed changes are part of state administration measures to stimulate USA fossil fuel extraction - a solution that comes despite global market saturation and ever-decreasing investment in the sector.
The agency must first take public comments on the proposal for 60 days, revise it, release the new proposal, and then finalize it. The plan makes good on a Trump campaign promise from 2016. The proposal immediately drew criticism from environmentalists and even some Trump allies, like Florida Governor Rick Scott, who anxious that new drilling could hurt tourism.
The governors of Washington, California and OR have also expressed their disapproval of the plan as they deem the decision to be a colossal threat to the fragile coast and the eco system of their states.
The draft proposal illustrates the Trump administration's commitment to expanding domestic energy development beyond the Gulf of Mexico. Dianne Feinstein, Massachusetts Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat.
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The oil industry also welcomed the proposal. Energy API said that through the year 2035, those leases could create 840,000 jobs, add about 3.5 million barrels a day to the country's energy production, generate more than $200 billion in new revenues to the federal government, lead to half a trillion dollars in new private-sector investment, and add more than $70 billion a year to the USA economy.
National Ocean Industries Association President Randall Luthi called the Trump proposal a "bold and broad" proposal that rightly keeps options on the table.
Environmental advocates, though, said California has other cards to play. Indeed, New Jersey's $45 million Shore-based tourism industry and its commercial fishing industry, which generates $8 billion annually and supports about 50,000 jobs, could also be impaired by any spill.
"Californians will never let this happen", said U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif. Additional costs could also come from litigation initiated by state attorneys general and environmental groups, which fiercly oppose the expansion.
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