President Obama Protects Some of the Atlantic and Arctic from Offshore Drilling

This action should be praised, and it is an environmental protection that will be an important part of president Obama’s legacy.

President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that he would permanently protect parts of the Arctic and Atlantic from offshore drilling. That includes 3.8 million acres in the north and mid-Atlantic Ocean.

“These actions…protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on Earth,” he said in a statement.

Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling program, also said, “This is a win for all who spoke out in support of putting our oceans off limits to oil extraction once and for all. President Obama just gave us an incredible victory in the fight to protect our oceans and climate from reckless offshore drilling and spilling.”

The president is reportedly planning to invoke a rarely-used provision in a 1953 law that lets him withdraw federal waters from future oil and gas leases. Although Obama issued an order earlier this year banning new lease sales in parts of the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific from 2017 to 2022, the upcoming move would protect certain portions of U.S. waters from oil exploration and production indefinitely.

Although it’s possible Trump would rescind the order, the provision does not have a process for reversal, meaning any effort to overturn it would likely involve a lengthy court battle.