By Ellie Gavin || Editor-in-Chief
On Monday, the US Department of Interior announced that it planned to auction off all available oil and gas leases in the Gulf’s outer continental shelf. Over 76.9 million acres of federal waters of the coast of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida are scheduled to be sold in March of next year. According to National Geographic, this is the largest ever oil and gas lease auction, surpassing the last auction of its kind by nearly a million acres, which happened under the Obama administration in August of last year.
The Department of Interior, which is tasked with management and conservation of federal land and natural resources, made a concerted effort under the Obama administration to protect federal waters from oil and gas drilling.
This is not the only federal water that the department wants to auction off; gas and oil leases in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve will also become available in December.
This massive land auction represents a win for the oil industry but a huge loss for environmental activists.
Two days later, the DOI rescinded an Obama-era policy that mandated officials consider climate change and greenhouse gas emissions before approving any energy-related projects.
When Trump won the election in November, many people who were fearful of his presidency consoled themselves with the idea that he would be ineffective: his extreme ideas about the direction the country would go in might have excited his voter base, but they would never survive the democratic process.
The problem, however, is that a lot of the change that Trump has been effective in making happens outside of the democratic process. Paul Krugman, writing for the New York Times, makes this point, pointing to the EPA’s reversal of the chlorpyrifos ban, a pesticide that the EPA’s own scientists say can damage children’s nervous systems, among other things. Trumpcare, which failed to pass the legislative process, has largely taken effect byway of executive action. Obamacare has yet to be repealed, and yet Trump has still been successful at chipping away at it through slashes in subsidies to insurance companies, and the creation of cheaper healthcare policies with fewer benefits. Trump doesn’t need the democratic process; he’s ruining things all on his own.
The setbacks in environmental regulations that have occurred these few weeks are even more proof of this: For better or worse, Trump, and the appointed officials underneath him, are definitely getting things done.
Senior Ellie Gavin is the Editor-in-Chief. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org