Barack Obama has permanently banned new oil and gas drilling in most US-owned waters in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans – a last-ditch effort to lock in environmental protections before he hands over to Donald Trump.
Obama used a 1953 law that allows presidents to block the sale of new offshore drilling and mining rights and makes it difficult for their successors to reverse the decision.
However Obama’s ban—affecting federal waters off Alaska in the Chukchi Sea and most of the Beaufort Sea and in the Atlantic from New England to the Chesapeake Bay—is unprecedented in scale and could be challenged by Trump in court.
The president-elect has vowed to unleash the country’s untapped energy reserves and exploit fossil fuels.‘These actions and Canada’s parallel actions protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on earth’ Obama said.
This has led to a scramble from environmentalists calling on Obama to impose whatever regulations and executive orders he can to protect his climate legacy.