President Obama has issued an order blocking future oil and gas development in the entire Chukchi Sea and nearly all of the Beaufort.
Obama deployed a rarely-used provision of the offshore leasing law, known as 12-A. It allows a president to remove ocean areas from leasing consideration. The White House said the withdrawals do not reverse rights of current lease holders. The announcement was made in conjunction with Canada, which today made similar offshore withdraws in its part of the Arctic.
Conservationists argue that 12-a withdrawals are permanent and cannot be undone by a future president. Their durability has not been tested in court. Obama’s action comes over the objections of Alaska’s Congressional delegation, which today asked for an appointment with the president.
Legal experts say Congress can reverse 12a withdrawals. Getting such a bill through the Senate next year may be difficult, though, because the Republicans will hold only a slim majority.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Canada creates Marine Protected Area in the Arctic, Radio Canada International
Finland: Remembering Finland bog protection controversy, Yle News
Russia: More protection for Russian Arctic archipelagos, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Sweden’s Ojnare forest becomes protected area, Radio Sweden
United States: Obama draws fury and joy with Bering Sea protection, Alaska Public Radio Network