Obama Moves to Protect Millions of Acres of Ocean from Potential Offshore Drilling

Science News Barack Obama

President Obama is working to defend oceans against the threat of offshore drilling. With the Trump presidency imminent, Obama has withdrawn 115 million acres of the Arctic Ocean and 21 underwater canyons in the Atlantic Ocean from future oil and gas development.

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act gives the president the authority to withdraw unleased offshore areas from future oil and gas drilling, and Obama himself has already used the law to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay, the Bering Sea and a part of the Chukchi Sea.

Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner Marissa Knodel issued the following statement in response to the news:

Today’s announcement is a major victory for our oceans and climate. Our offshore areas need permanent protection in the face of Donald Trump’s pledge to expand offshore drilling and his cabinet’s ties to Big Oil. We must afford the same protections to the people of the Gulf of Mexico, which has become an energy sacrifice zone.

Donald Trump’s actions since the election have made clear that he will put Big Oil’s profits above Americans’ public health. No president has ever rescinded a previous president’s permanent withdrawal of offshore areas from oil and gas development. If Donald Trump tries to reverse President Obama’s withdrawals, he will find himself in court.

President-elect Trump has a mixed history with climate change, and has appointed one of the principal antagonists of the EPA to head the department during his administration. Needless to say, this news couldn’t come any sooner.

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