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Trump’s effort to expand offshore oil and gas exploration has stalled, and may be dead in the water. The newest obstacle is an April ruling in Alaska’s U.S. District Court that blocked Trump’s order to lift a ban on energy leasing in Arctic waters.


Trump’s 2018 order opening nearly all U.S. coastal waters to offshore drilling is now in limbo, and may be significantly revised. If Trump is voted out in 2020, the plan won’t survive. And even if he is reelected, there are logical arguments for shelving it.


Why would Trump even consider such an unpopular move? One driver may be his determination to erase the environmental legacy of his predecessor, President Obama.


In December 2016, invoking a provision of the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Obama banned offshore drilling in large areas of the Arctic and along the Atlantic coast. Trump sought to kill the ban using an executive order – an approach that reflects his broader effort to extend the limits of presidential power. But Alaska’s District Court ruled that only Congress can reverse Obama’s action.


Nonetheless, the Interior Department is still processing applications to conduct surveys for oil and gas deposits off the Atlantic coast. And the White House is moving to undo new drilling safety requirements adopted in response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
How much would the oil industry gain from more access to federal waters? Trade groups welcomed Trump’s order, but their statements aren’t especially convincing – mainly because estimates of potential offshore reserves in the contested areas pale compared to the central and western Gulf of Mexico, where energy companies have been drilling since the late 1930s.


The action is on land
More to the point, an onshore oil and gas boom is underway, centered in several major provinces of the lower 48 states. These areas offer far more potential with much lower drilling costs than the offshore.
Some of the world’s largest private oil companies are focused on the Permian Basin, an 86,000 square mile region in West Texas and southeast New Mexico. One measure of the stakes is a battle between oil giants Chevron and Occidental over a roughly US$50 billion merger with Anadarko, a company that holds significant value and high standing in the basin.

衡量股权的一个标准是石油巨头雪佛龙和西方石油公?#23616;?#38388;围绕与阿纳达科公司约500亿美元的合并展开的斗争。阿纳达科是一家在该盆地拥有巨大价值和极高地位的公?#23613;?br />
According to published figures and confidential sources I have spoken with, the Permian Basin holds approximately 70-100 billion barrels of oil and over 300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. In a 2018 study the U.S. Geological Survey more than doubled earlier estimates for the Delaware Basin, part of the greater Permian Basin province.


These numbers reveal the enormous scale of new resources that have emerged over the past decade from combined use of advanced horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing. In contrast, estimated reserves in the offshore areas Trump wants to open are far smaller: Only 5 billion barrels of oil and 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas for the entire Atlantic seaboard, with perhaps another 13 billion barrels and 50 trillion cubic feet combined for the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and offshore California.


These volumes aren’t trivial, but they are likely to be spread over millions of acres. And oil prices, which recently have ranged from about $55-75 per barrel, would need to be much higher to generate any solid interest in such areas.


Perhaps the biggest benefit for the oil industry from expanding offshore leasing would be defeating environmentalists on a signature issue. That could make it easier to open other areas that currently are off-limits to drilling.


I believe that any president who wants the United States to play a major role in the world’s energy future should be beating the drum for other sources. Fossil fuels will not disappear soon, but low-carbon and carbon-free sources will become ever more essential. And strategies like maximizing offshore oil production will be ever more difficult politically, economically or scientifically.

我认为,任何一位希望美国在世界能源未来发挥重要作用的总统?#21152;?#35813;大力宣传其他能源。化石燃料不会很快消失,但低碳和无碳能源将变得越来越重要。而像最大化近海石油产量这样的策略将在政治、经济或科学上变得更加困?#36873;?br />