• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 42s

Obama bans future oil leases in much of Arctic, Atlantic

By KTVA / AP 12:03 PM December 20, 2016

Last updated at 6:40 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 20

As Alaska faces economic challenges, President Barack Obama has designated the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing. The Alaska Congressional delegation and Gov. Bill Walker say the decision could be harmful to the state.

The move on Tuesday helps put some finishing touches on Obama’s environmental legacy while also testing President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to unleash the nation’s untapped energy reserves.

Environmental groups hope the ban, despite relying on executive powers, will be difficult for future presidents to reverse.

The White House says Obama has used a provision in a 1953 law to ban offshore leases in the waters permanently.

The Atlantic waters placed off limits are 31 canyons stretching off the coast of New England south to Virginia.

Canada is also placing a moratorium on new leasing in its Arctic waters.

screen-shot-2016-12-20-at-1-36-09-pm

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell applauded Obama’s move. In a release from her office, she said:

“The President’s Arctic withdrawal, which encompasses the entire U.S. Chukchi Sea and significant portions of the U.S. Beaufort Sea, will provide critical protection for these vibrant and fragile offshore ecosystems, which are home to marine mammals and other important ecological resources and marine species on which many Alaska Native communities rely for subsistence and cultural traditions.”

Earlier in the day, the Alaska Congressional delegation urged Obama to talk with them before he “make any additional decisions that will harm our state’s future.”

In a letter to the president, the delegation expressed frustrations with the Obama Administration.

“During your time in office, Alaska’s ability to produce energy, minerals, and other resources for the good of the nation has come under direct and sustained assault,” the delegation wrote.

Walker also responded to Obama’s decision. He said, “This unprecedented move marginalizes the voices of those who call the Arctic home and have asked for responsible resource development to lower the cost of energy to heat houses and businesses. For centuries, the Arctic has provided food for those in the region. No one is more invested than Alaskans to ensure that the habitats within the Arctic are protected. To lock it up against any further exploration or development activity is akin to saying that the voices of activists who live in Lower 48 cities have a greater stake than those to whom the Arctic is our front yard and our back yard.”

The Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) also issued a statement condemning the move.

“We will fight this legacy move by the outgoing president with every resource at our disposal,” said Rex A. Rock Sr., ASRC president and CEO in the statement. “This decision will not stop our climate from changing, but it will inhibit our North Slope communities from developing the infrastructure, communications capability and technology necessary for growth. It’s a move which was made without any consultation from the largest private land owners in the U.S. Arctic and yet we will be the ones forced to live with the consequences.”

In its statement, ASRC claimed the president “blatantly” ignored feedback from Arctic residents in a similar announcement last month, cancelling offshore lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas through 2022.

In a release from the White House, Obama defended his decision.

“In 2015, just 0.1 percent of U.S. federal offshore crude production came from the Arctic and Department of Interior analysis shows that, at current oil prices, significant production in the Arctic will not occur,” the release said. “That’s why looking forward, we must continue to focus on economic empowerment for Arctic communities beyond this one sector.”

This is a developing story; check back for updates.

KTVA 11’s Megan Edge and Liz Raines contributed to this report. 

Latest Stories

  • Anchorage man finds peace through singing opera

    by KTVA 11 News on Apr 26, 21:11

    Hubert Joseph is a classical singer who has been singing for six months. He wasn’t interested in classical music until he listened to symphonic metal. “It’s where you get a trained opera singer with metal guitar instrumentals,” Joseph said. When he worked a the Rustic Goat, a co-worker enjoyed his singing so much she bought […]

  • Politics

    Governor, education advocates ramp up pressure on Senate over cuts, broad-based tax

    by Liz Raines on Apr 26, 19:34

    Governor Bill Walker and some citizen-led groups are turning up the heat in Juneau on the Senate’s calls for big budget cuts, on day 100 of the 90-day session. Walker pointed to a new report by the state Office of Management and Budget Wednesday to show Alaska’s budget may be bigger than most other states, […]

  • News

    Anchorage homeowners to see property tax increase

    by Bonney Bowman on Apr 26, 19:26

    Anchorage homeowners will have to budget a little more to pay their property taxes. The municipal assembly voted 9 to 2 to increase the mill levy at Tuesday night’s meeting. The mill levy is used to calculate the amount a person owes in taxes. Amy Demboski and Fred Dyson were the two assembly members who […]

  • News

    Bear-resistant trash cans now available in Anchorage

    by Lauren Maxwell on Apr 26, 18:27

    The Government Hill neighborhood that’s had a long history with problem bears is finally getting something residents say they’ve wanted: bear-resistant trash cans. The trash cans weren’t available two summers ago when a black bear with three cubs made regular visits to the neighborhood, attracting huge crowds in the process. The bears were eventually put […]

  • Lifestyle

    Musk ox calf birth caught on camera

    by KTVA Web Staff on Apr 26, 18:09

    Musk ox momma, Avalanche, welcomed a calf Wednesday afternoon at The Musk Ox Farm in Palmer. Around 3:45, workers at the Farm captured the new calf coming into the world. The staff gives the new calf and its mom a few hours to bond before they make contact. So, it’s not yet clear if the […]

  • Couple married 69 years die minutes apart, holding hands

    by Associated Press on Apr 26, 16:45

    HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) – The children of a suburban Chicago couple married for 69 years say their parents died just 40 minutes apart while holding hands at a hospital. Teresa Vatkin died Saturday at 12:10 a.m. at Highland Park Hospital at age 89. Her husband, 91-year-old Isaac Vatkin, died around 12:50 a.m. Relatives say […]

  • Lifestyle

    Neanderthals in California? Maybe so, provocative study says

    by CBS News/Associated Press on Apr 26, 16:05

    NEW YORK – A startling new report asserts that the first known Americans arrived much, much earlier than scientists thought – more than 100,000 years ago. And maybe they were Neanderthals. If true, the finding would far surpass the widely accepted date of about 15,000 years ago. Researchers say a site in Southern California shows […]

  • News

    Alaska Air beats 1Q profit forecasts

    by Associated Press on Apr 26, 15:33

    SEATTLE (AP) – Alaska Air Group Inc. (ALK) on Wednesday reported first-quarter profit of $99 million. On a per-share basis, the Seattle-based company said it had net income of 79 cents. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to $1.05 per share. The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of nine analysts […]