The Detroit News | February 19, 2017 | Andrew Langer
Some parting gift: On his way out the White House door, President Barack Obama banned seismic surveying in the Atlantic Ocean from New England south to Virginia.
It was a fitting end to eight years of a presidential administration dedicated to frustrating the development of domestic energy resources at every turn. Fortunately, indications are that President Donald Trump will take a more welcoming view of the economic benefits of increased U.S. oil and gas production.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management handed down the ban in response to six separate applications to conduct seismic surveys in the Atlantic. These surveys are used to locate and create images of rock formations, a key step in the search for underground oil and gas reserves below the ocean floor.
In denying the applications, BOEM claimed that the surveys would be disruptive and could harm marine life — a weak justification based on scanty evidence at best. This, too, is part of a pattern of flimsy excuse-making for decisions that are really all about politics.
Last year, after the federal government spent months contemplating opening up areas of the Atlantic Ocean to offshore oil and gas leasing, the Obama administration decided instead to block all exploration in these areas for five years. The Department of Interior cited local opposition and “market dynamics” as the reason for the moratorium.
In December, Obama announced a permanent ban on offshore drilling in federal waters along the Atlantic Coast and in the Arctic Ocean, nearly 118 million acres in total. This was done, characteristically, by executive order, itself justified by the dubious application of a law dating back to 1953.
Read the full op-ed here.
Andrew Langer is president of the Institute for Liberty.