Obama bans oil and gas drilling in Arctic and Atlantic oceans

Market - Himanshu Gill - Dec 21,2016

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obama bans oil and gas drilling in arctic and atlantic oceans

US President Barack Obama has permanently banned new oil and gas drilling in vast majority of the waters owned by the US in Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

The move is seen as one last attempt from Obama government to secure environmental protections in the region before US president elect Donald Trump takes over. Obama used a 1953 law that allows the president to block the sale of new offshore drilling and mining rights and makes it tough for their successors to reverse the decision.

Obama’s ban affects the federal waters off Alaska in the Chukchi Sea and most parts of the Beaufort Sea and in the Atlantic from New England to the Chesapeake Bay. The ban is unprecedented in scale and could be challenged by Trump only in the Supreme Court.

The president-elect has pressed on unleashing the country’s untapped energy reserves and exploit fossil fuels. He previously questioned the science of climate change during his campaigns, even threatening to tear up the Paris climate agreement and has specifically appointed climate change deniers in his cabinet. Trump has named Rex Tillerson, chief of oil company Exxon Mobil, as his secretary of state.

Canada alongside the US, has also committed for a similar measure in its own Arctic waters, in a joint announcement in Washington. But while Canada will review the decision in every five years, the White House insists Mr. Obama's declaration is permanent.

However, the American Petroleum Institute has insisted that there is no such thing as a permanent ban, hoping that Trump's administration would simply reverse the decision.

Very little oil drilling currently takes place in the Arctic region, as it is more expensive and difficult than other options available. The oil industry has also had a bad safety record in northern waters - In 1989 the tanker Exxon Valdez ran into ground in Alaska, spilling hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil, polluting 1,300 miles of coastline.