US president Barack Obama and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau have designated the bulk of U.S. and Canada owned waters in the Arctic Ocean as indefinitely off limits for Arctic drilling.

“Today, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau are proud to launch actions ensuring a strong, sustainable and viable Arctic economy and ecosystem, with low-impact shipping, science based management of marine resources, and free from the future risks of offshore oil and gas activity,” the statement read.

Russian-operated drilling in the Arctic. Image credits: Krichevsky.

The move adds a finishing touch to Obama’s environmental legacy, one which president-elect Donald Trump has sworn to undo. However, environmental groups hope that this decision will be hard to overcome by future presidents. The move is expected to raise the income of local people.

“This decision will help protect existing lucrative coastal tourism and fishing businesses from offshore drilling, which promises smaller, short-lived returns and threatens coastal livelihoods,” said Jacqueline Savitz, a senior vice-president at the advocacy group, Oceana.

However, oil industry officials have protested the move, arguing that it undermines America’s position as an energy leader.

“Instead of building on our nation’s position as a global energy leader, today’s unilateral mandate could put America back on a path of energy dependence for decades to come,” said Dan Naatz of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

 

Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!

Estimate my solar savings!