Thanks to activists’ unrelenting efforts, the Obama administration has abandoned plans to allow drilling for oil and gas off America’s Atlantic Coast. The move, which goes against previous decisions, was done largely in response to pressure from coastal communities and warnings from the Navy.
Now, the fossil fuel industry is banned (until the year 2022) from drilling along the Atlantic coastline of five states: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
This new move affirms Obama’s commitment to protecting the environment. In the past, the U.S. president not only blocked the Keystone XL pipeline, he made areas of the Arctic off-limits from the oil industry.
IFLScience reports that the announcement came as part of the Interior Department’s oil and gas leasing planning process for the next five years. During the review, the department looked at thirteen potential sites in six areas, ten of which are in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Atlantic coast may not be protected from drilling, but the operations will still be allowed in the Gulf of Mexico, which is still deemed one of the most productive basins in the world. In fact, it is located in the area BP Deepwater Horizon polluted with an oil spill in 2010.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell explained:
“We heard from many corners that now is not the time to offer oil and gas leasing off the Atlantic coast. When you factor in conflicts with national defense, economic activities such as fishing and tourism, and opposition from many local communities, it simply doesn’t make sense to move forward with any lease sales in the coming five years.”
While this is undoubtedly positive news for the states involved, it is hinted that there is still potential for drilling to take place in three regions in the Arctic, despite staunch resistance from activists.
“We know the Arctic is a unique place of critical importance to many – including Alaska Natives who rely on the ocean for subsistence,” Jewell elaborated.
“As we put together the final proposal, we want to hear from the public to help determine whether these areas are appropriate for future leasing and how we can protect environmental, cultural and subsistence resources.”
Obama may have less than one year in office, but he is doing what he can to create a more environmentally-minded nation before exiting the White House.
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