As Reuters reports, Interior’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management, Joe Balash, mentioned that the department has been working to allow seismic testing off the East Coast. He also noted that it would not have taken the work if the acreage was to be kept off limits.
In addition, Mr. Balash said the proposal is possible to be drifting into the Q2 of 2019, because the department underestimated the amount of time the proposal needs.
Moreover, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is also reviewing nine geological and geophysical permit applications to enable seismic testing in areas from Delaware to Florida. However, a number of states oppose to this effort. Namely, states from New England to Florida oppose to offshore drilling and called the US government to be excluded from its offshore drilling plan. They worry that the risk of an oil spill is far more than the promised jobs and revenues.
Commenting about the drilling proposal, Interior spokesman Russell Newell noted that the five-year proposal has not been finalized. Nonetheless, during 2018, BOEM issued a draft proposal opening up more than 90% of coastal waters in the outer continental shelf to oil and gas drilling. It also informed that it would accept feedback before offering a final proposal in the course of 2019.
A little after the announcement of the initial proposal, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had agreed to exempt Florida. He had also stated that at least six states would be pleased with the final plan, as their waters do not have enough resources.Since the resign of Mr. Zinke, however, it is not clear whether these plans have changed or not.