NEW YORK – The controversy over drilling for oil in the Atlantic Ocean has been reignited by the election of Donald Trump, and environmentalists and coastal businesses say it could be the first major fault line that divides them from the new president. The Obama administration has moved to restrict access to offshore oil drilling leases in the Atlantic, as well as off Alaska. Commercial oil production has never happened off the East Coast -- and environmentalists consider that a major victory during Obama's tenure. But President-elect Trump has said that he intends to use all available fuel reserves for energy self-sufficiency -- and that it is time to be opening up offshore drilling. While supporters say that expanded oil exploration is poised to become one of Trump's signature accomplishments, environmentalists and other opponents see oil drilling policy as a looming conflict.
The Trump administration is to allow marine creatures such as whales and dolphins to be harmed by companies as they search for potential oil and gas reserves off the Atlantic coast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has granted five operators permission to "incidentally but not intentionally harass marine mammals" while conducting surveys for fossil fuels in the seabed. The testing will involve the use of seismic air guns which fire continuous blasts to ascertain whether deposits of oil and gas are present. This procedure is a precursor to what could be the first drilling in federal waters off the US eastern seaboard in decades. By the federal government's own estimates, airgun testing could harm hundreds of thousands of marine mammals such as dolphins and whales.