Yes, and this will be one of the biggest moves the outgoing administration will take on climate, and interestingly, the incoming government may not have the power to lift the ban.
Barrack Obama used a 1953 law that allows presidents to block sales of new offshore drilling and mining rights, and it even makes it pretty difficult for their successors to reverse the decision. The US president has banned all drilling in US-owned waters in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, so we can conclude that he made the last effort to protect the environment before handing over the reins to the incoming government.
This move could be as a result of Trump’s unrelenting promises of unleashing the country’s untapped energy reserves and exploiting fossil fuels. He had even questioned the belief in climate change, promising to go as far as tearing Paris climate agreement and have people who deny climate change on his cabinet. Interestingly, Trump may be able to challenge Obama’s ban in court, but it’s likely he’ll lose.
Obama’s decision to ban drilling in US waters is a result of calls from environmentalists that he should impose any regulations and executive orders he can to protect his environmental legacy. Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada also announced a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing in its arctic waters, but his is subject to periodic review.
While speaking on the joint move, Barrack Obama said that “these actions and Canada’s parallel actions protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on earth. They reflect the scientific assessment that, even with 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 oil spill in the harsh conditions is very limited.”
He continued, “by contrast, it will take decades to fully develop the production infrastructure necessary for any large-scale oil and gas leasing production in the region—at a time when we need to continue to move decisively away from fossil fuels.”
He made really cool points, and this singular move will go a long way as it will protect animals such as polar bears, narwhals, walruses, north Atlantic cod, cold and deep-water corals and many others. So if only for the animals that we will preserve in this region, I believe the president-elect should see enough reason to respect the ban placed on drilling in these areas.