No New Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing in the Arctic Ocean

This week Obama prevented any new offshore oil and gas leasing in the Arctic Ocean for the next five years. Rebecca Hersher, No New Federal Oil and Gas Leases in the Arctic Ocean for the Next Five Years, (Nov. 18, 2016). The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced a plan that included 11 approved lease sites to be sold and drilled between 2017 and 2022. Id. The plan allowed for a majority of offshore oil and gas reserved to be drilled in order to keep the price of oil low. Id.

Locations off the North coast of Alaska, including the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, were considered but did not make the final list. Id. Rhea Suh, the President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, refers to the decision as “a significant milestone in protecting the fragile Arctic Ocean and limiting climate change.” Id. Other environmentalists agree that excluding this area assists to curb the impact of climate change and possible dangers of oil spills. Id.

The plan will go into effect only a few short days before Trump’s inauguration. Id. Trump ran his campaign on the promise that he would lift drilling restrictions offshore if elected. Id. He stated that lifting restrictions would occur in his first 100 days in office, and would generate $50 trillion back into the economy. Id.

Fortunately, it is very difficult for Trump to reopen the Arctic lease areas. Id. Shiva Polefka, a representative for the Center for American Progress’s Ocean Policy Program, states that Trump reopening the area would, “require redoing all that scoping and environmental analysis, which took years to complete.” Id. It could also spark environmental groups to sue the government due to the environmental review process. Id.