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Obama Slams Permanent Ban on Arctic Oil and Gas Drilling

BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – US outgoing President Mr. Barack Obama has permanently banned offshore oil and gas drilling in the “vast majority” of US-owned northern waters in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

Mr. Obama declared that the designated areas are “indefinitely off limits” to future leasing.
The White House said the decision was for “a strong, sustainable and viable Arctic economy and ecosystem.” It cited native cultural needs, wildlife concerns and the “vulnerability” of the region to oil spills as some of the reasons for the ban.

Analysts said the leaving President’s move is an attempt to protect the region before he vacates office in January 2017.

It also reasoned that supporters of President-elect Mr. Donald Trump might find it difficult to reverse the decision.

Canada is also committed to a similar measure in her Arctic waters, in a joint announcement with Washington.

However, Canada will review the move every five years, but White House insists Mr. Obama’s declaration is permanent.

President Obama’s decision relies on a 1953 law which allows the President to ban leasing of offshore resources indefinitely.

President-elect Mr. Donald Trump’s statement during the last US Presidential election that he would take advantage of existing US oil reserves has fueled speculation and concern that he might tamper with the permanent ban.

If Trump did, his decision would be open to a legal challenge.

Reaction to the ban from Friends of the Earth said: “No President has ever rescinded a previous President’s permanent withdrawal of offshore areas from oil and gas development.
They contend “If Donald Trump tries to reverse President Obama’s withdrawals; he will find himself in court.”

In contrary, the American Petroleum Institute in its reaction stated: “there is no such thing as a permanent ban,” thus it hoped Mr. Trump’s administration would simply reverse the decision.

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