The Trump administration has postponed public hearings scheduled this week for its controversial offshore drilling plan because of the partial government shutdown.
The hearings were scheduled, Monday through Thursday, in Augusta, Maine; Baton Rouge, La.; Anchorage, Alaska; Concord, N.H.; Boston; Montgomery, Ala.; and Providence, R.I.
“A lapse in funding means that a number of government activities have ceased due to a lack of appropriated funding and because a number of employees have been temporarily furloughed,” the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the agency in charge of the offshore leasing plan, said in a press release Monday.
The agency will announce new dates for the hearings when the government resumes normal operations. The Senate on Monday voted to re-open the government, paving the way to end the three-day standoff.
The Interior Department published its draft five-year offshore drilling plan in the Federal Register on Jan. 8, proposing to open nearly all federal waters to oil and natural gas drilling.
Almost all coastal state governors have protested the plan and vowed to challenge it in court. Critics were incensed after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke granted Florida an exemption, just one day after announcing the plan.
Zinke has emphasized his offshore drilling proposal is not final and is subject to a 60-day public comment period, during which he said he would consult with state leaders and other stakeholders.