US President Barack Obama has permanently banned offshore oil and gas drilling in the "vast majority" of US-owned northern waters.
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.
The majority of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and the entirety of the Canadian Arctic are now off limits for future offshore oil and gas leasing.
According to ADN, President Obama's Dec. 20 executive order locking up offshore development in the Arctic was Alaska's "Nightmare before Christmas."
Much of the policy and planning the U.S. and Alaska have been working toward in the Arctic was unwoven with this action.
Obama designated areas in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans as "indefinitely off limits" to future leasing. The move is widely seen as an attempt to protect the region before Obama leaves office in January, BBC reported.
"Today, in partnership with our neighbors and allies in Canada, the United States is taking historic steps to build a strong Arctic economy, preserve a healthy Arctic ecosystem and protect our fragile Arctic waters, including designating the bulk of our Arctic water and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing," President Obama said in a statement.
The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
and US President said last week they would designate most of North American Arctic waters off-limits to new activity, including all future oil and gas licensing
in Canadian waters.
The joint announcement issued by both countries on Tuesday set off a firestorm of responses from both sides of the aisle with conservation groups and a handful of Arctic communities lauding the move and many of the state's business and political leaders criticizing it.
Energy firms including Imperial Oil (IMO.TO)
and BP will get a year of consultations to hash out the fate of their rights in Canada’s Arctic after the drilling freeze set the stage for a dispute over license extensions.