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Why Is Trump So Committed to Offshore Drilling?

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An offshore oil rig is pictured at sunset.

President Donald Trump‘s effort to expand offshore oil and gas exploration has stalled, and may be dead in the water. The newest obstacle is an April ruling in Alaska’s United States District Court that blocked Trump‘s order to lift a ban on energy leasing in Arctic waters.

Trump‘s 2018 order opening nearly all U.S. coastal waters to offshore drilling is now in limbo, and may be significantly revised. If Trump is voted out in 2020, the plan won’t survive. And even if he is reelected, there are logical arguments for shelving it.

In my view, this proposal has always been more political than practical. What’s more, there is plenty of accessible oil and gas on land—as well as renewable energy resources that would do much more to advance Trump‘s “energy dominance” doctrine.

Offshore Drilling Is a Political Loser

Unlike the boom in production on land, which is popular in energy-rich states, expanding offshore leasing and drilling has met almost unbroken resistance. Six states have passed legislation in the past year opposing it. In Florida, where coastal tourism is one of the largest industries, anger at the plan crosses partisan lines.

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