Obama: Before I Go, I’m Going To Permanently Ban Offshore Drilling

Posted: Dec 21, 2016 7:30 AM

Before he makes his exit on January 20, President Obama decided to permanently ban offshore drilling, and he’s confident that President-elect Donald J. Trump won’t be able to reverse it. The oil and gas industry disagrees, but legal challenges and possible congressional action may be needed to undo this order (via LA Times):

Invoking a rarely used provision in federal law, the Obama administration on Tuesday announced a permanent ban on offshore drilling in broad parts of the Arctic and Atlantic coasts — a sweeping and controversial move that will help secure the president’s environmental legacy even as critics vowed to reverse it.

The ban relies on the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953, which says the president “may, from time to time, withdraw” federal waters from oil and gas development that are not already leased. It was announced as part of a joint action with Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made long-term, though not permanent, commitments to protect the Arctic from drilling.


A senior administration official said Tuesday that the White House was “quite confident” that the decision could not be undone by Trump, noting that the law specifies no provision for reversal. The official suggested that overturning the ban could require years of legal action and the passage of a bill in Congress.

Some oil industry leaders said they believed the next administration could easily reverse it. They cited a 2008 memorandum by President George W. Bush that lifted a temporary ban in certain offshore areas imposed by President Clinton.

“Fortunately, there is no such thing as a permanent ban, and we look forward to working with the new administration on fulfilling the will of American voters on energy production,” wrote Erik Milito of the American Petroleum Institute.

This will certainly be challenged by the Trump administration and we should all be hoping that reversing this action is going to be swift and efficient.