With only two months left in office, President Obama’s administration just finalized its program for oil and gas leasing, and it will ensure protections for the Arctic and Atlantic oceans until 2022. In what is considered a major win for coastal regions and marine wildlife, these areas will not be subject to dangerous oil or gas drilling until climate change-denier and fossil fuel-guzzling proponent Donald Trump has completed his term in office – and perhaps even beyond.
“Coastal businesses, fishermen, and marine life learned the lesson after the BP disaster that when you drill, you spill,” said Heather Leibowitz, the Director for Environment New York. “We are thrilled the Atlantic is protected for the next five years and adding protection for the Arctic makes the victory that much sweeter.” The road to such protections was a long one, beginning with the initial 2017 to 2022 Outer Continental Shelf leasing plan proposed in January of last year. This version of the plan left coastal regions from Virginia to North Carolina vulnerable, as well as the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in the Arctic Ocean.
The final plan cancelled leases for these areas for the next five years, yet left behind 10 leases in the Gulf of Mexico. According to a National Resources Defense Council survey, a majority of American oppose oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic. Leibowitz says more and more citizens are becoming aware of the dangers of offshore drilling, so there may still be hope for the Gulf’s future. She adds, “The only safe amount of drilling for our climate and communities is none at all – that is why President Obama should extend permanent protection for the Atlantic and Arctic oceans before leaving office.”