Obama blocks new oil, gas drilling in Arctic Ocean

The Royal Dutch Shell oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer is towed toward a dock in Elliott Bay in Seattle in May 2015. Royal Dutch Shell walked away from exploratory drilling in U.S. Arctic waters and the Obama administration has taken steps to keep drill
Obama blocks new oil, gas drilling in Arctic Ocean
Author

19 November, 2016

The US plans offered 11 potential lease sales - 10 in the Gulf of Mexico and one off the coast of Alaska in the Cook Inlet area.

President-elect Donald Trump's desire to expand offshore gas and oil drilling in the Arctic is going to be a bit more hard to accomplish now.

However, the proposed final program does include one sale in the northern portion of the Cook Inlet Planning Area.

Of the 11 lease sales proposed in the five-year plan, 10 are in the Gulf of Mexico, historically the focal point of United States offshore oil production. Under Friday's announcement, the federal government now holds a 60-day comment period that will end before Trump takes office on January 20, which will make undoing the action more complicated than if Obama had waited longer.

The plan focuses on the best areas "with the highest resource potential, lowest conflict and established infrastructure - and removes regions that are simply not right to lease", Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said. At the time, the global major cited an "unpredictable" regulatory environment and disappointing initial drilling results.

Despite that, industry representatives reacted bitterly to the latest announcement, calling the decision political and not supported by the facts.

Matthew Paxton is president of the Shipbuilders Council of America, the national trade association representing the US shipyard industry.

The new federal leasing plan also makes the Atlantic off-limits to drilling, another success for environmentalists and coastal communities that fought initial plans to lease areas to fossil fuel firms. "Additionally this oil is not needed because there likely will be ample world oil supply available for many years, and the trans-Alaska pipeline system has enough oil throughput to operate for the next half-century".

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"You've got a decision that effectively is going to send all of the benefits of production overseas", Murkowski said.

During President Elect Donald Trump's campaign, he was vocal about wanting to reverse several executive orders that were set in place by President Obama. Trump loathes regulation and wants to increase oil and gas drilling and the use of coal.

Trump pledged in May to pull the US out of the historic Paris climate agreement.

Fortunately, President Obama has the power to do more to protect our Arctic and Atlantic oceans-and the residents that depend on their continued health.

California's coastline has been an object of oil and gas interest for decades, but the state's strong Democratic institutions have blocked the construction of any new offshore drilling platforms for more than 30 years.

Rejection of drilling in the Artic and Atlantic "demonstrates a commitment to prioritizing common sense, economics and science ahead of industry favouritism and politics as usual", Savitz said. "We all know how the Chukchi effort ended, yet we know there is still tremendous potential in Alaska's offshore", said Rex Rock, Sr., president and CEO of ASRC, speaking to Alaska Public Media.

Since Trump's victory last week, Obama has taken a number of steps to restrict future fossil fuel exploitation, including a decision Monday to cancel a lease to Devon Energy to drill on Native American land in Montana.

"The president has the authority to do even more", Suh added.


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