New Hampshire Enacts Ban on Offshore Drilling to Block Trump’s Expansion Plan

Republican Governor Christopher Sununu signed legislation on Sept. 11 prohibiting offshore oil and natural gas exploration in state waters. New Hampshire joins California, New Jersey, Maine, and Oregon that have enacted similar measures in response to the Trump administration’s plan to open vast amounts of coastal waters to drilling activities.

The bill bans the lease of tidal or submerged lands in state waters for drilling activity, and also prevents the construction of pipeline or infrastructure that transports oil or gas from federal or other coastal state waters through New Hampshire waters. State regulators are prohibited from permitting or approving any development associated with offshore drilling.

Last January, the U.S. Interior Department proposed to open more than 90 percent of the outer continental shelf acreage for oil and gas development under its 2019-2024 draft program. The proposal would open the majority of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico region to leasing for the first time since 1988, and also include leases in the Pacific and Atlantic regions where there have been no sales since 1984 and 1983, respectively.

In March, the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska overturned President Donald Trump’s executive order issued in 2017 to undo a ban on oil and gas drilling in most of the Arctic Ocean. The court ruled that only Congress has the authority to revoke the ban imposed by former President Obama in 2015 and 2016.