Obama stops Arctic drilling

Obama stops Arctic drilling

Greenpeace: “We’re closer to saving the Arctic because of you”

In his last days as the US president, Obama banned future drilling in Atlantic and Arctic waters. 

Obama relies on a law from 1953, which allows governors to exclude areas at sea of drilling because “it is in the public interest.”

Previously, te law has been used by former presidents but never before without the inclusion of an end date.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada simultaneously announced a ban on new drilling in Canadian Arctic waters.


The New York Times: (…) Mr. Obama invoked an obscure provision of a 1953 law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which he said gives him the authority to act unilaterally. While some presidents have used that law to temporarily protect smaller portions of federal waters, Mr. Obama’s declaration of a permanent drilling ban on portions of the ocean floor from Virginia to Maine and along much of Alaska’s coast is breaking new ground. The declaration’s fate will almost certainly be decided by the federal courts. (…/)

Video CBS

“Today was a good day for the Arctic,” a video posted by the White House stated. “Good for the walrus. Good for the seal. Good for the planet. President Obama has conserved more land and water than any president in history.”

More presidential protection actions

During his presidentship, mr. Obama announced many actions to protect the environment. He ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change, his Clean Power Plan to green the energy production in the United States, was overruled by the US Supreme Court and he planned a strategy to Cut Methane Emissionsby 40-45% from 2012 levels by 2025.

Sensitive and unique ecosystem

The ban on drilling gives future to Arctic wildlife and corals. Forbidding the drillings in about 98 percent of federally owned Arctic waters, or about 115 million acres, can make a difference to endangered species such as polar bears and bowhead whales. It will also protect a series of coral canyons in 3.8 million acres stretching from Norfolk, Va., to the Canadian border. The coral canyons are home to unique deepwater corals and rare species of fish.

“These actions, and Canada’s parallel actions, protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on earth,” said Mr. Obama in a statement. “They reflect the scientific assessment that even with the high safety standards that both our countries have put in place, the risks of an oil spill in this region are significant and our ability to clean up from a spill in the region’s harsh conditions is limited.”


Opponents of Mr. Obama’s environmental agenda said they fully expect Mr. Trump to take actions to legally undo the ban. But nowhere does the law say that a future president can reinstate those areas, a senior administration official told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

Before presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, George Bush and Bill Clinton all used the 1953 law to protect portions of federal waters. None of those designations have been undone.


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