Vowing that his successor won’t be able to reverse his actions, President Obama on Tuesday used executive authority to permanently ban new offshore drilling in federally owned waters off the Atlantic coast and in the Arctic Ocean.
Mr. Obama used authority a section of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, a 1953 law, to ban the drilling. The law includes a provision that allows a president to put certain waters off-limits to oil and gas production.
The move comes in conjunction with similar actions by Canada, which also moved to prohibit drilling in its own Arctic waters. The U.S. move will ban drilling in the vast majority of American waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, in addition to areas off the Atlantic coast stretching from New England to Virginia.
“These actions, and Canada’s parallel actions, protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on earth,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “They reflect the scientific assessment that, even with the high safety standards that both our countries have put in place, the risks of an oil spill in this region are significant and our ability to clean up from a spill in the region’s harsh conditions is limited.”
Mr. Obama went on to say that drilling in the areas is simply not economical, though some critics say otherwise.
White House officials also made clear that they believe Mr. Trump, who assumes power Jan. 20, cannot undo Tuesday’s action. The 1953 law, they said, gives a president authority to ban drilling in areas but contains no provisions giving a president power to reopen them.