Report: Trump set to sign executive order on offshore drilling

U.S. President Donald Trump is set to sign a batch of executive orders by Friday, two of them focused on potentially opening more areas in the U.S. for offshore oil and gas exploration.

This is according to Politico, which cited sources familiar with the U.S. administration’s plans.

In an article on Sunday, the newspaper said the expected executive order will call for “review of the locations available for offshore oil and gas exploration and of certain regulations governing offshore oil and gas exploration.”

Politico highlighted former president Obama’s actions taken in his final days in the office when his administration withdrew millions of acres in the Arctic and the Atlantic Ocean from future oil and gas activity.

The Obama administration’s actions at the time were lauded by environmentalists, but attracted negative reactions from pro-oil and gas officials who slammed the ‘lame-duck’ move, and express hope the next president would be able to overturn Obama’s actions.

‘Lame duck’ is an expression used in the U.S. to describe a politician or administration in the final period of office, after the election of a successor.

All in all, during his tenure at the White House, the Obama administration made nearly 125 million acres in the offshore Arctic unavailable for oil and gas exploration, on the grounds of risks associated with oil and gas activity in the remote, harsh and undeveloped Arctic are not being worth taking “when the nation has ample energy sources near existing infrastructure

The former administration also said that oil spill response and clean-up “raises unique challenges in the Arctic and a spill could have substantial impacts on the region, particularly given the ecosystem fragility and limited available resources to respond to a spill.”

Politico also said Trump would order a review of national monuments designations made by the Obama administration.

President Obama has been said to have designated more acreage as a national monument that the previous 18 presidents combined. Once an area has been deemed a national monument any new activities in the area such as oil, gas, and mining operations are prohibited.

Lisa Murkowski, a Republican senator from Alaska, and chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has been critical of the Obama’s “unilateral” acreage withdrawals using the national monument designations.

Murkowski in January said the Antiquities Act had become Obama’s tool to sidestep Congress and “create sweeping conservation areas despite opposition from local residents.”

“The Obama administration alone has now designated a total of 554 million acres—equal to 865,625 square miles, an area five times the size of California—onshore and offshore as national monuments,” Murkowski said in January, calling for a reformation of the National Monument Designation Process Act.

She then introduced a bill that would “facilitate greater local input and require state approval before national monuments can be designated on federal lands and waters.”