A group of Senate Democrats is asking the Trump administration to extend the comment period for its controversial offshore drilling plan.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, led 22 colleagues in a Monday letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke seeking the extension.
Friday is the end of a two-month period during which the Interior Department is taking comments on its plan. The plan, released in January, floated drilling almost everywhere it could be legally allowed: along the entire Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, as well as all around Alaska, except Bristol Bay.
“Given the large scope of the draft proposed program, we believe a 60-day extension of the deadline for comments is necessary to allow for public hearings in coastal areas and to give the public sufficient time to submit comments on offshore drilling proposed for near the entire U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, encompassing over 90 percent of total OCS acerage — the largest number of potential offshore lease sales ever proposed,” the Democratic senators wrote.
The lawmakers also criticized the entire public input process, including events Interior has been holding in coastal states, and called for input opportunities.
“The opportunity for the public to provide input on the draft proposed program is critical given the new, large scope of the draft proposed program and its potential impacts on coastal communities and economies, the marine environment, and climate,” the wrote.
“We do not believe that the 23 currently announced ‘open house’ style meeting are adequate in duration, location nor format need to meet the public input requirements.”