WASHINGTON — The Trump administration said Thursday it is taking steps to expand oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans as President Donald Trump continues to push for U.S. “energy dominance” in the global market.
The Interior Department is rewriting a five-year drilling plan established by the Obama administration, with an eye toward opening areas in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans that now are off-limits to drilling.
U.S. oil production has boomed in recent years, and exports of oil and natural gas are surging, primarily because of improved drilling techniques such as fracking that have opened up production in previously out-of-reach areas.
Trump says more steps are needed to “unleash” domestic reserves and remove government regulations that could prevent the U.S. from achieving global dominance in energy.
Trump was speaking at the Energy Department on Thursday as the administration celebrated a self-proclaimed “energy week” that has focused on increasing U.S. exports and adding jobs.
Trump and other officials say they are confident the country can pave the path toward energy dominance by exporting oil, gas and coal to markets around the world, and promoting nuclear energy and even renewables such as wind and solar power.
Trump signed an executive order in April to expand oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, reversing restrictions imposed by President Barack Obama. Trump has also pushed to revive U.S. coal production after years of decline. Coal mining rose by 19 percent in the first five months of the year as the price of natural gas edged up, according to Energy Department data.
A report released in January by the Energy Information Administration said the country is on track to become a net energy exporter by 2026, although the White House said Tuesday that net exports could top imports as soon as 2020.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said increased offshore drilling could provide more than enough revenue to offset an $11.5 billion maintenance backlog in national parks.
“There’s a consequence when you put 94 percent of our offshore off limits,” Zinke said in a speech this week. “There’s a consequence of not harvesting trees. There’s a consequence of not using some of our public lands for creation of wealth and jobs.”