The Interior Department announced Thursday that it is beginning the first step in redoing the Obama administration's five-year offshore energy leasing plan to open up more of the nation's coastline to oil and natural gas drilling as part of President Trump's America First energy plan.
"The new program is going to replace the current 2017-2022 five-year program," said Vincent DeVito, counselor to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on a call with reporters, explaining that the Obama administration left out many areas for development and in many cases excluded energy development.
The five-year program is required by law and outlines the areas where oil and natural gas companies can buy leases that allow them to drill. The Obama administration excluded the Atlantic and Arctic from the drilling program after it said it would consider opening those areas.
The Trump administration has said it will seek to open up those areas in line with what states and coastal communities see as beneficial.
"Many of the offshore programs with significant oil and gas resources were left out of the Obama administration's program, and we are going to be examining all of the outer-continental shelf planning areas with a fresh set of eyes to see where we can expand access to oil and gas development," DeVito said.
The Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will be publishing a Request for Information in Monday's Federal Register to begin the process of redoing the five-year plan. The request "seeks public comment and suggestions on what the expanded program should include and how it should operate," DeVito said.
The announcement came as Trump was addressing a Energy Department conference as part of the administration's Energy Week, where the Interior Department said he will announce the restart of the offshore energy leasing program's review process.
The current Obama five-year plan will remain in place as Interior begins the "initial step" in reassessing the five-year energy plan.