Obama set to permanently block huge swathes of Arctic waters from drilling leases

Obama set to permanently block huge swathes of Arctic waters from drilling leases

US President Barack Obama is set to put a permanent stop to offshore drilling rights sales for much of the US Arctic and Atlantic, according to Bloomberg citing unnamed White House sources.

The move would be one of the last significant acts of Obama’s presidency as he has only four-and-a-half weeks left in office.

His Department of the Interior has already issued a five-year-plan (2017-2022) for hydrocarbon drilling leases that severely restricts options off Alaska.

The sources say that the president will use a provision in a 1953 law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which empowers the president to occasionally withdraw certain unleased areas from being disposed.

Obama has invoked the law previously but only in a limited fashion compared to what is suggested now.

Any such move would be sure to meet resistance from the energy industry and to be challenged by President elect Donald Trump’s administration after he takes over on January 20.

If the move does go ahead it is expected to be accompanied by similar action from Canada.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.

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