Over 115 million acres of Arctic will be free from oil and gas exploration under decrees by leaders of US and Canada
In one of his final acts as US president, Barack Obama has determined huge areas of the US’ Arctic and Atlantic seas are “indefinitely off limits” to oil and gas drilling.
The announcement was made on Tuesday evening with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who agreed to similar measures that will be reviewed every five years.
The White House says Obama’s decision – which is based on a 1953 law allowing the president to stop offshore drilling – is permanent and will survive under a Donald Trump administration.
A total of 115 million acres of the Arctic will be protected by the move, which the White House said was at “significant” risk of oil spills had future drilling permits been awarded.
“It would take decades to fully develop the production infrastructure necessary for any large-scale oil and gas leasing production in the region – at a time when we need to continue to move decisively away from fossil fuels,” said Obama in a statement emailed to media.
US climate campaigners were quick to signal their approval for the measures, and said they would fight the next administration in court if it tried to reverse the decision.
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