Source: New York Times
With his environmental legacy facing an uncertain future as Donald Trump takes office, President Obama has announced he is banning offshore drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans indefinitely. The unilateral move is made possible by Obama’s invoking of an obscure 1953 law—the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act—which allows presidents to withdraw lands from future leasing.
The ban will prevent drilling in about 115 million acres of unspoiled Arctic waters, home to threatened species such as bowhead whales and polar bears. Drilling will also be illegal across a 3.8-million-acre area of the Atlantic Coast from Norfolk, Va., to the Canadian border, which is home to deep-water corals and unique fish species.
The use of the law, which is being hailed by environmentalists and denounced by the Big Oil establishment, is controversial: Previous presidents have invoked the law to protect portions of federal waters, but Obama’s far-reaching ban is unprecedented in scale.
The new legislation is the latest in a number of last-ditch efforts by Obama to stop “The Donald”—a climate change skeptic and fossil fuel supporter—from scrapping his key environmental policies, including joining the international Paris climate accord. Obama has the support of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who simultaneously announced an end to his country’s Arctic oil and gas exploration.
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