Obama Blocks Offshore Drilling In Arctic, Atlantic Oceans
In a move that will likely be overturned promptly by the administration of Donald Trump, president Obama on tuesday formally blocked offshore oil and gas drilling in most of the Atlantic and arctic ocean, responding to a call from environmentalists who say the government has to do more to prevent drilling in environmentally sensitive areas of U.S.-controlled oceans.
The president had been expected to take the action by invoking a provision in a 1953 law that governs Outer continental shelf offshore leases, and he did just that to block drilling in federal waters in the Arctic's Chukchi sea and most of its beaufort sea. He also protected 21 underwater canyons in the atlantic ocean from drilling. furthermore, canada can block drilling in all of its arctic ocean acreage, a moratorium officials can review every 5 years, the White House said.
The provision, contained in the 1953 Outer continental shelf Lands Act, has been invoked in the past to set aside smaller parts of the Outer continental shelf, like coral reefs or natural habitats. Presidents george H.W. Bush and bill clinton used the provision to block drilling in a lot of of the Outer continental shelf, but for limited periods.
The Obama administration's action marks the broadest use of the statute ever as a result of it would be far-reaching in terms of the lands it might protect and come without an expiration date. Provision 12(a) of the law states, "The President of the u. s. may, from time to time, withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the outer continental shelf." Momentum to use the provision has been building this year according to CNBC. In May, a coalition of environmental groups circulated a fact sheet that highlighted the authority provided under 12(a).