Trump proposed a massive expansion of offshore drilling—what can states do?

Enlarge / Aerial view of an oil production platform in the Gulf of Mexico with a flare of the coast of Port Fourchon, Louisiana's southernmost port, where land loss due to coastal erosion is estimated to be more than the size of footaball field every hour. (Photo by Julie Dermansky/Corbis via Getty Images) (credit: Getty Images)

On Thursday, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced a proposal to expand federal offshore drilling areas substantially, which could put more than 90 percent of the federal offshore land known to contain oil and gas up for auction in the five years between 2019 and 2024.

The offshore drilling areas include areas off the coast of Alaska, in the Pacific Region, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in the Atlantic Region. But states like California, Oregon, and Washington, as well as Virginia and Florida, are likely to push back on federal approval to drill off their coasts—even if the state itself doesn't have jurisdiction over the federally-owned ocean floor being sold.

This week's announcement comes just a week after the Trump Administration's DOI proposed a rollback of rules promulgated after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010. The Deepwater explosion killed 11 oil rig workers and resulted in millions of gallons of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico, followed by widespread environmental devastation. After the spill, the Obama Administration proposed rules requiring third-party certifications of certain equipment used on oil rigs, expanded failure reporting requirements, and new system design safety requirements among other things. The Trump Administration contends that these requirements are burdensome for oil drillers (PDF).

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