Trump Shutdown Spares Oil Industry as Interior Works on Plan to Pollute Our Coasts

Department of Interior prioritizes offshore drilling expansion as thousands of federal workers furloughed or forced to work without pay


Maggie Caldwell, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2084

Alex Frank, The Hastings Group, (703) 276-3264 

Alyssa Roberts, League of Conservation Voters, (202) 454-4573 

Anne Hawk, Natural Resources Defense Council, (202) 513-6263


Despite the federal government shutdown, the Interior Department is keeping its doors wide open to polluters, moving ahead with its widely opposed 5-year offshore leasing plan, expected to be released in the coming weeks. 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, under the direction of acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, has issued a revised contingency plan ordering as many as 40 Interior Department personnel to continue work on the Trump administration’s revised 5-year offshore leasing plan during what is now the longest government shutdown in American history. The agency deemed the move necessary to “comply with the Administration’s America First energy strategy.”

The following is a joint statement by Earthjustice, League of Conservation Voters, and the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“As the American people experience the painful effects of the Trump Shutdown, the administration is busy serving the oil and gas industry. Instead of working with Congress to end the longest government furlough in American history, the Trump administration is prioritizing a radical, unpopular plan to subject America’s coasts to more offshore drilling. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is asking dozens of employees to return to work at the behest of oil and gas industry lobbyists.

“Ignoring public health, scientific consensus, and bipartisan opposition has been a trademark of the Trump administration.

“Shocking the conscience is everyday fare for the Trump administration. But it is a new level of ‘dirty’ to pursue reckless and dangerous offshore drilling while thousands of federal employees go without pay, national parks are vandalized and shuttered, forest fire prevention funds are being diverted, and the nation’s food supply goes without proper inspection.”

The current draft of the Trump administration’s plan ignores widespread, bipartisan public opposition to offshore leasing, radically expanding drilling in new areas of the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and Arctic waters, and attempts to auction off permanently protected areas.

Americans have rejected the Trump administration’s move to expand dirty and dangerous offshore drilling and energy exploration. That opposition includes tens of thousands of local businesses and hundreds of thousands of commercial fishing families that depend on clean coasts, the majority of Americans, nearly every coastal Governor, over 315 coastal municipalities, many Alaska Natives, bi-partisan lawmakers at the local, state, and federal levels, and a host of faith and conservation leaders.

A tension-leg oil production platform burns off unrecoverable gas and leaves a plume of smoke in the Gulf of Mexico.
A tension-leg oil production platform burns off unrecoverable gas and leaves a plume of smoke in the Gulf of Mexico. (Land by Sea / Getty Images)

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