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The Hill: Alaska Lawmakers Consider Blocking Obama's Drilling Ban

Image: The Hill: Alaska Lawmakers Consider Blocking Obama's Drilling Ban

(AP)

By    |   Thursday, 22 Dec 2016 10:15 AM

Two lawmakers in Alaska are looking to overturn President Barack Obama's ban on oil drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, according to The Hill.

Obama made more than 40,000 square miles of Alaska's coast off limits to oil and gas drilling with an executive order.

On Tuesday, he declared most of the U.S.' portion of the Arctic Ocean and 31 undersea canyons on the edge of the continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean would also be closed to drilling, The Hill reports.

Two Republicans, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young, say they want to clear up Congress' views on Obama's action.

"Ambiguities in the law will create an opportunity for litigation by the very extreme environmental groups that President Obama was pandering to," Mike Anderson, Sullivan's spokesman, told The Hill.

"It doesn't mean their litigation would succeed, but just as with any number of actions the new administration might undertake, Congress can buttress those decisions with statutory support."

Young's spokesman Matt Shuckerow told The Hill: "The Congressman believes this decision can be overturned by the incoming administration and will be encouraging President Trump to do so. In addition, Congressman Young will also pursue legislation to overturn this decision."

The closing of the Arctic Ocean portion and the canyons is temporary and President-elect Donald Trump could reverse it. However, the ban off Alaska's coast are indefinite because Obama used a measure in a 1953 law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

Both supporters and opponents expect conflict over the moves, but no one is sure what will happen.

"It's pretty much unknown territory right now. I don't think anything analogous to this has occurred before," Deborah Siva,s Stanford University environmental law professor, told The Hill. 

No president has ever tried to reverse a ban on offshore drilling that had been put in place by a previous president. However, Trump has planned to nominate Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke to lead the Department of the Interior and Zinke supports developing fossil fuel in public lands and oceans.

"We believe there is a strong legal basis that these withdrawals as well as all the prior indefinite withdrawals will go forward and will withstand the test of time," a senior Obama official told The Hill.

The oil industry could step in and defend Trump in court over reversing the bans, says Erik Milito, upstream director of the American Petroleum Institute. "There's a good chance that a reversal by President-elect Trump would withstand legal review."

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Two lawmakers in Alaska are looking to overturn President Barack Obama's ban on oil drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, according to The Hill.
Alaska, Lawmakers, Consider, Blocking, Obama, Drilling, Ban
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2016-15-22
Thursday, 22 Dec 2016 10:15 AM
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