This story was reported for WWNO -- New Orleans Public Radio
Secretary Zinke signed the orders at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston on Monday. (U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR)
President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week calling for more oil and gas drilling. But the final call is up to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior.
On Monday, the secretary endorsed Trump’s plan -- and then some.
The executive order is intended to expand offshore drilling on federal lands -- including in the Gulf of Mexico. It calls for Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, to review drilling regulations.
Zinke took that a step further with two of his own orders.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is the federal agency that oversees offshore oil and gas leases, like those in the Gulf of Mexico. BOEM dictates where drilling can occur on a five-year plan.
Zinke wants the bureau to develop a new five-year plan for drilling offshore. That means some areas that are currently off limits could be opened up.
The order says the current leasing program prevents drilling in areas that “potentially contain tens of billions of barrels of oil.”
The order would allow BOEM to consider offering leases in those areas, and states a desire to expand areas in the Atlantic and Arctic.
The second order creates a new position to oversee the Interior Department’s energy portfolio.