Obama’s Last-Minute Offshore Drilling Ban Could Be Illegal

The Daily Caller-01Daily Caller | December 22, 2016 | Andrew Follett

Outgoing President Barack Obama used his executive authority to “permanently” ban oil drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, but this move may be illegal, according to an industry group.

Obama’s administration used a legal strategy crafted by environmental activists to remove sections of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans from future offshore drilling lease sales, which they claim will be “permanent.”

“It is pretty clear that this is a hollow 11th hour action,” Christopher Guith, a senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In spite of the narrative that extreme interest groups who pushed the White House to do this, there’s nothing about this that’s permanent. The White House itself didn’t use the phrase permanent, they said it was ‘indefinite.’”

The administration and its environmental allies used Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, a 1953 law governing offshore drilling, in an unprecedented way  to block offshore drilling leases in the Atlantic Ocean and the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

“This flies in the face of how we do offshore leasing,” Guith continued. “Every 5 years, we have to do a new offshore leasing plan. There’s already precedent for a new President rescinding his predecessors withdrawal. George W. Bush rescinded Clinton’s offshore drilling ruling already when gas prices were high.”

Environmentalists hope it will take Trump or Congress years to repeal an Obama decision to permanently keep Arctic and Atlantic areas off limits to drilling, but a simple lawsuit could overturn all of that.

“I’d be very suprised if somebody like the State of Alaska or an industry group didn’t sue President Obama immediately,” Guith told TheDCNF.” There are a lot of questions about whether Obama’s ruling followed the law. By the time it gets to court, the Obama administration is now the Trump administration. That will be a huge policy difference.”

Read the full story here.