The Obama administration is about to release plans to make the Arctic off-limits to offshore drilling and cancel some 25 oil and gas leases at a national forest.
Sources told Bloomberg News’ Jennifer Dlouhy the Department of the Interior’s new five-year offshore drilling plan will “block the sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in U.S. Arctic waters,” which is a big win for environmentalists.
On top of that, Interior Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will join federal and state officials in announcing the cancellation of “25 oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide area of the White River National Forest,” reports Politico. Interior will cancel leases “while leaving others in places and adding new conditions to other leases.”
The decision to block lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas comes after years of more restrictive Arctic drilling policies and a decline in industry interest in exploring for petroleum in the region.
The plan could be short-lived, however. President-elect Donald Trump may decide to scrap Interior’s current five-year plan and start the process anew. There’s also the prospect of Congress using the Congressional Review Act to undo the ban.
Dlouhy notes the plan “is subject to a 60-day congressional review and could be rewritten by President-elect Donald Trump, in a process that could take months or years.”
Republican lawmakers are concerned the Obama administration will rush through a slew of “midnight” regulations before Trump takes office in January, and the House passed legislation Thursday to curb this practice.