Wilderness Policy

Offshore drilling halted – a win for Wilderness

The first 100 days in the oval office are the days that will define your presidency in America. This is a principle set out by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Critically affecting Wilderness are Trump’s attempts to overturn 3 memorandums and one executive order. This would mean a drilling ban for much of the Arctic Ocean off the Alaska coast will go back into effect, which is a reversal of Barack Obama’s ban on off shore drilling.

The former president Barack Obama issued these memorandums and order to prevent the leasing of 125 million acres by the U.S Department of the Interior for oil in the Arctic Ocean, thus ensuring its preservation for future generations. Meanwhile it also prohibited drilling within certain areas of the Atlantic Ocean.

What the courts said

Sharon Gleason, United States District Judge, over-ruled Trumps order. She stated that the Outer Continental Shelf Act only allows for presidents to withdraw lands from consideration of exploitative uses. Not to re-instate them. Gleason further stated that Trumps executive order was;

unlawful, as it exceeded the President’s authority.

Sharon Gleason
US District Court Judge

Further, she went on to say that only an Act by Congress can overturn former President Obama’s 2015 and 2016 withdrawals. A spokeswoman for the Department of the Interior declined to comment pending litigation of the decision. Gleason’s decision protects Wilderness and nature in the Alaska and the Arctic Ocean from Trumps move to reinstate drilling.

A major win for environmental advocacy groups

Gene Karpinski praised the victory of environmentalists over the Trump administration. In his speech he cited that “no one, not even Trump, is above the law”. Further stating that, “Trump wanted to erase all of the environmental progress we’ve made, but we fought back and we won”.

However, it isn’t the end

While publicly decrying Obama for his use of memorandums and executive orders; Trump has enacted more presidential orders within these 100 days than any other president in the past 72 years. Trumps attempt to reverse the ban on offshore drilling is a prime example of this. He also, for example, put forward an order on 28 March 2017 for energy independence, which threatens the coastline of California. While it says energy generation can be from wind and renewable sources, it promises to remove “regulatory burdens” on the production of energy from fossil fuels.

Relating it to Europe

meanwhile in Europe, they may not be drilling into protected areas, a line is forming for drilling to begin in the Europe’s Northern waters such as the Berants Sea. Despite the sharp fall of oil production in Europe at the turn of the century. The drilling in the North Sea raises concerns with meeting the already dangerous 2°C scenario (while adaptations should aim to be lower than 1.5°C) set out by the Paris Agreement. Arguments against it are that it is seen as viable with a coast of oil per barrel at $60. Currently at the time of writing this, the price per barrel is sitting at $65.58; just above where it is viable. All the while adding to the C02 issues globally.

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