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News analysis: Will report to Trump open up MPAs to drilling?

The Commerce Secretary is due to submit a report to White House officials by Wednesday that could call for offshore oil and gas drilling and mineral exploitation in some of our nation’s most precious ocean resources. This report was required by a Trump Executive Order—“Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” Executive Order 13795 Section 4(b)—which requires the Secretary to report to the OMB Director, the CEQ Chairman and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, within 180 days of April 28.

The aim of the report is to analyze how much it “costs” to ban drilling in protected ocean areas. Specifically, it will look at the opportunity costs (that is, the lost value) associated with prohibiting energy and mineral exploration and production in marine sanctuaries and marine monuments designated or expanded in the past 10 years. Oil and gas drilling is currently prohibited in the marine sanctuaries and monuments that are under review and are listed below.

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