President Trump signed an executive order Friday that could open areas in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans to oil and gas drilling.
In announcing the “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” Trump said the executive order will direct a “review of the locations available for off-shore oil and gas exploration.”
The move seeks to reverse restrictions on offshore drilling put in place by former President Obama.
“Today we're unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying American energy jobs,” he said at the signing.
"Our country is blessed with incredible natural resources, including abundant offshore oil and natural gas reserves," he said. "But the federal government has kept 94 percent of these offshore areas closed for exploration and production …[which] deprives our country of potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth."
Trump, with the order, is directing his interior secretary to review an Obama-era plan that dictates which locations are open to offshore drilling, with the goal of the new administration to expand operations.
The announcement Friday is part of Trump's promise to unleash the nation's energy reserves in an effort to reduce reliance on foreign oil and to spur jobs, regardless of fierce opposition from environmental activists who say offshore drilling harms whales, walruses and other wildlife and exacerbates global warming.
The executive order will reverse part of a December effort by President Obama to deem the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic as indefinitely off limits to oil and gas leasing.
It will also direct Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to conduct a review of the locations available for offshore drilling under a five-year plan signed by Obama in November.
The order could open exploration in areas off of North and South Carolina, as well as Virginia.
"This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job creating energy exploration," the president said. "It reverses the previous administration's Arctic leasing ban and directs Secretary Zinke to allow responsible development of offshore areas that will bring revenue to our Treasury and jobs to our workers."