US President Barack Obama has definitively barred any new research into hydrocarbons in the vast areas of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.
A month after Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House, which promises to remove numerous environmental regulations, measures announced by the Democratic president, complemented by a similar initiative in Canada, are expected to cause major discontent in the Republican camp.
“Today, in partnership with our Canadian neighbors and allies, the United States is going through a historic step to preserve Arctic ecosystems,” Obama said in a statement, also pointing to the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels to fight climate change Climate change.
Obama, who made environmental protection one of the high priorities of his two mandates, relied on a 1953 law to act a few weeks before his departure.
This legislation gives presidents the power to protect federal waters from any exploitation of gas and oil. It had already been used by several of its predecessors, among them Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton.
The decision, taken on Tuesday, relies on “a solid legal basis” and can not be questioned by another President, a senior White House official said.
In the Atlantic Ocean, off Alaska, Obama has permanently interdicted any new hole in a little over 50 million hectares, which includes all the US waters of the Tchouktches Sea and a large part of those in Beaufort.
For its part, Canada has announced the permanent banning of any new drilling in Canadian Arctic waters, but with the possibility of revision every five years.
In the Atlantic, Obama has designated 31 underwater sites where any drilling will be banned.
Trump, who has repeatedly questioned the reality of climate change, has vowed to end “the intrusion” of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) into “North American” life.
To direct it, he appointed Scott Pruitt, the Justice Minister of Oklahoma State, who led a court battle to overturn Obama’s government regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by coal-fired power stations.