President Donald Trump announced yesterday (June 29), during a speech at the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C., that the process to begin offshore oil and gas development in the Arctic and Atlantic would begin Monday (July 3).
Here’s a telling quote from his announcement:
We’re opening it up, the right areas, but we’re opening it up. We’re creating a new offshore oil and gas-leasing program. America will be allowed to access the vast energy wealth located right off our shores. And this is all just the beginning—believe me.
This move is notable not only because it’s furthering the environmental deregulation the Trump administration has been so adamant about, but also because it increases risks to the waterways on which coastal communities rely.
In the Arctic, Alaska Natives depend on waters for food and resources important to their culture and sustenance. In the Atlantic, Indigenous communities build livelihoods around their water. When those waters become polluted, those livelihoods—be it fishing, crabbing or oystering—are lost.
When BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill hit the Gulf, communities of color saw some of the worst impacts. Vietnamese immigrant fishers couldn’t bounce back the way their White peers could. And the entirely Black community of Pointe à la Hache, Louisiana, suffered some of the worst damages in the state.