AUGUSTA, Maine - Republican Gov. Paul LePage has yet to thoroughly review a Trump administration plan to vastly expand offshore areas of the outer continental shelf to potential oil and gas exploration. The new five-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program would open most offshore areas of Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic to drilling from 2019 to 2024, including the Gulf of Maine.
According to LePage's press secretary, Julie Rabinowitz, the governor is generally supportive of measures that would increase the country's energy independence and employment rolls, while utilizing natural resources. She also told Maine Public that Gov. LePage expects the broad expansion of potential lease land is just the first step in a series of steps, and that certain areas will be likely excluded based on environmental sensitivity, fishing industry concern, tourism and other criteria.
Initial reaction to the plan unveiled Thursday has been swift and critical from environmental advocates.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine is calling the plan a land grab for oil companies at the expense of all other ocean-dependent industries, as well as ocean health.
All four members of Maine's congressional delegation have voiced opposition to drilling off the coast of Maine.
A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for January 22 at the Augusta Civic Center.