Barack Obama has given fans of not destroying Earth the perfect Christmas gift.
The outgoing President today announced a landmark deal with Canada to preserve the Arctic.
Together with Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, the Obama administration announced a permanent ban on oil and gas drilling in large parts of the Arctic.
The White House said the entire US portion of the Chukchi sea, 31 canyons off the Atlantic coast, as well as most of the Beaufort Sea are now “indefinitely off limits for future oil and gas leasing”.
Canada will join forces with the US, freezing offshore oil and gas exploration in its own Arctic waters.
This is a truly groundbreaking move by the US President, that will hopefully mean that no more ground will be broken in the ecologically fragile area.
But what makes this decision by the President so crucial is that it was done just in time for the Trump Presidency.
Trump has nominated ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State, which means the oil executive will be the go-to guy negotiating climate agreements.
Tillerson has been active bidding for oil and gas resources in the Russian Arctic, and would have certainly liked to have seen the Arctic remain open for offshore drilling.
Donald Trump himself has said that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, so Obama’s move is being hailed as a critical one before the potential environmental destruction of the Trump Presidency.
Obama’s stroke of genius was relying on the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to make the decision, which allows Presidents to declare lands withdrawn from future leasing.
This will make it incredibly difficult for Trump to overturn it because it is a law and not an executive order – so the next administration will have to go through the courts if they want to make any changes.