U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took decisive action on Tuesday to protect the Arctic region from the oil industry by limiting offshore oil and gas leasing and licensing.
President Obama’s pro- environmental executive action in the Arctic that invoked a 1953 law concerning offshore drilling, makes it difficult for President elect Donald Trump to unwind without Congressional action and ensures that a remote, environmentally sensitive region will be free from the future risks of offshore oil and gas activity.
President elect Trump has come out skeptical of climate change and said on a December 11th airing of Fox News Sunday that “nobody really knows whether climate change is rea” but later admitted he’s “very open” on whether climate change is real.
Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier, to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Based on the opinion of 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists, climate-warming trends over the past century are “extremely likely due to human activities.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that “taken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.”
Due to continual warming trends in the Arctic region, the Arctic Ocean is expected to become essentially ice free in summer before mid-century.
Obama and Trudeau Release Joint Arctic Statement
According to a joint statement released on Tuesday between the two leaders, “the United States is designating the vast majority of U.S. waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas as indefinitely off limits to offshore oil and gas leasing, and Canada will designate all Arctic Canadian waters as indefinitely off limits to future offshore Arctic oil and gas licensing, to be reviewed every five years through a climate and marine science-based life-cycle assessment.”
Canada is planning to deploy energy efficiency and renewable power across its Northern communities while lowering its dependency on diesel.
The U.S. and Canada are also agreeing to establish processes that can identify sustainable shipping lanes throughout their connected Arctic waters, in collaboration with Northern and Indigenous partners, while reaffirming their commitment to a legally binding agreement that is aimed at preventing unregulated commercial fisheries in the Arctic High Seas.
The joint statement points out that the U.S. Coast Guard has begun a strategy to phase down the use of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) in the Arctic and the Canadian Coast Guard is adopting a similar measure in 2017.
The United States has also declared 31 canyons off of the Atlantic Ocean are off limits for oil drilling.