At the moment, the hopes are high in the energy industry that the next four years will see some really positive change. After a period of years in which the domestic oil and gas industry has seen a tremendous dry spell thanks to a combination of foreign meddling and increasingly harsh restrictions and regulations, even the possibility of hope is a sign of real, positive change. Of course, the outgoing President isn’t going to sit on his hands until President-elect Trump is sworn into office in January.
The Obama administration has moved to block new oil and gas drilling projects in the Arctic Ocean. Extraction in the area has proceeded slowly during the Obama administration as anti-fracking protestors claim new projects will inevitably harm “whales, walruses and other wildlife,” simultaneously contributing to global warming.
Well, it seems like the folks currently running the White House took the bait, because on Friday, the administration released a plan that would prohibit the sale of any new oil and gas drilling rights in select portions of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans for the next five years.
Randall Luthi, President of industry group the National Ocean Industries Association, told reporters for The Associated Press, “The arrogance of the decision is unfathomable, but unfortunately not surprising.” Luthi cited research that indicated 70 percent of Alaskans — including a majority of Native Americans — support offshore drilling. Luthi was one of many who called the decision wholly political.
The announcement came just days after Trump pledged to expand drilling efforts into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump vowed to amp up domestic energy extraction in an attempt to decrease dependence on foreign oil. Increasing the areas available to companies looking to begin new projects was a key component of that plan. Now, with one document, the Obama administration has severely delayed any attempt by the President-elect to open those areas up to exploration.
According to NPR, the decision has raised public outcry from both elected officials and Native American groups throughout Alaska. Unfortunately, it would seem that for the moment, there’s nothing for the Trump administration to do but start the process over from the very beginning. Considering the legislative battles that have taken place over the disputed territory to date, it could be several years before the oil and gas industry is able to set up shop in the Arctic.