Obama blocks new oil, gas drilling in Arctic Ocean
The Obama administration is blocking new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean, handing a victory to environmentalists who say industrial activity in the icy waters will harm whales, walruses and other wildlife and exacerbate global warming, Associated Press reported.
A five-year offshore drilling plan announced on Friday blocks the planned sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska. The plan allows drilling to go forward in Alaska's Cook Inlet southwest of Anchorage.
The blueprint for drilling from 2017 to 2022 can be rewritten by President-elect Donald Trump, in a process that could take months or years.
Besides Cook Inlet, the plan also allows drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, long the center of U.S. offshore oil production. Ten of the 11 lease sales proposed in the five-year plan are in the Gulf, mostly off the coasts of Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Alabama.
Confirming a decision announced this spring, the five-year plan also bars drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.
"The plan focuses lease sales in the best places - those with the highest resource potential, lowest conflict and established infrastructure - and removes regions that are simply not right to lease," said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.