Oil and Gad Drilling Opportunities Put Marine Sanctuaries at Risk

by mackieg on November 10, 2017 - 7:52pm

Marine sanctuaries along the west coast in California are natural wonders – hosting breeding sites to many marine creatures, as well as providing locals and tourists with many recreational activities. These protected sites have recently become at risk of being reduced or even eliminated thanks to a new executive order put forward by President Trump six months ago. The America First Offshore Energy Executive Order, signed in April, was aimed at expanding offshore oil and gas drilling in the Artic and Atlantic oceans. In order to expand the drilling opportunities, Trump plans to reduce or eliminate protected marine sanctuaries and ocean monuments (Helvarg, 2017). Paul Rogers, from Mercury News, recently reported that the White House has received recommendations on which marine sanctuaries should be reduced or eliminated, threatening all that the marine sanctuaries have to offer (Rogers, 2017). These eleven recommended areas include Monterey Bay, Channel Islands, the Greater Farallones, and Cordell Bank; all are now under threat to be destroyed by oil and gas drilling, deep sea mining, and other previously banned activities. The report on the recommendations have been withheld from the public, a decision that was slammed by environmentalist groups. Trump’s presidency has been riddled with attempts to undermine previous conservation work accomplished by past presidents, for example the recently expanded west coast sanctuaries by Obama’s administration is now threatened to be reduced greatly.

Large scale resource management such as this is subject to many forms of conflict – the most prominent in this article being conflict of value and of interest. The marine sanctuaries along the west coast are valued for their recreational opportunities, as well as the scenic beaches that are a key factor the to the Californian identity – 65% percent of Californians live in coastal counties (Helvarg, 2017). In the sanctuaries, the area is open for fishing, surfing, swimming, boating, and diving making it the perfect recreation sites for locals and attracting tourists. When making decisions in regards to these sanctuaries, president Trump does not hold the same values. In his eyes, leaving the sanctuaries is a lost profit opportunity in deep sea mineral mining and oil and gas drilling (Rogers, 2017). Not only does Trump not appreciate the recreational and environmental aspects that the marine sanctuaries offer, he completely ignores the income and jobs that come from the marine sanctuaries.

In a conflict of interest, Trump wants to create new jobs in the mining and oil sector, bringing in profit from the exploitation of marine sanctuaries but in doing so he will be eliminating any income from tourism and fisheries along the west coast. Trump sees the marine sanctuaries as lost opportunity costs for oil drilling, dumping, and mining, but in reality, these protected sanctuaries embody gained opportunities benefiting the coastal economies. According to NOAA reports, coastal fisheries bring in over $200 million a year and support more than 1,300 jobs and in Monterey Bay alone tourism is a $3.5-billion industry supporting 35,000+ jobs (Helvarg, 2017). Trump preaches that he wants to create new jobs and income, but does not realize that the sanctuaries themselves already provide such a large chunk of West California’s income. When it comes to conservation of national landmarks and sanctuaries, the only green Trump cares about protecting has 18 holes.


Helvarg, D. (2017). Time is running out to stop Trump from opening California marine sanctuaries to oil drilling. [online] latimes.com. Available at: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-helvarg-marine-sanctuaries-20... [Accessed 11 Nov. 2017].

Rogers, P. (2017). Trump gets report that could open marine sanctuaries to oil drilling. [online] Mercurynews.com. Available at: http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/10/27/trump-gets-report-that-could-open-... [Accessed 11 Nov. 2017].