President Trump signed an executive order Friday that could lead to the expansion of drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, saying it will reverse his predecessor's Arctic leasing ban and create "great jobs and great wealth" for the country.
Trump said the executive order, titled "Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy," will direct a "review of the locations available for off-shore oil and gas exploration" and related regulations.
"Today we're unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying American energy jobs," Trump said in his announcement.
"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."
"This deprives our country of potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth," Trump said.
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 plan blocked new oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. It also blocked the planned sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska, but allowed drilling to go forward in Alaska's Cook Inlet southwest of Anchorage.
Trump's order could open to oil and gas exploration areas off Virginia and North and South Carolina, where drilling has been blocked for decades.
"This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job creating energy exploration," Trump 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."
The president also said it will allow for Zinke to reconsider "burdensome regulations" that Trump said "slow job creation."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.