President Obama’s Interior Department announced that no offshore leases for oil and gas development in Arctic will be granted for a five-year period.
The decision was made drawing criticism from Republican lawmakers and industry representatives who say the move will make the U.S. more dependent on foreign energy sources, Washington Times reports.
Jack Gerard, CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, a national oil and gas trade association, stressed the decision would weaken U.S. energy security.
“Today’s announcement is a short-sighted decision that ignores America’s long-term energy security needs,” Gerard said. “Our national energy security depends on our ability to produce oil and natural gas here in the U.S. and this decision could very well increase the cost of energy for American consumers and close the door on creating new jobs and new investments for years.”
The five-year offshore drilling plan from 2017 to 2022 blocks the planned sale of new oil and gas leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska. The administration is allowing drilling to go forward in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.
President-elect Donald Trump, however, could rewrite the blueprint for drilling after he takes office in January.
“The plan focuses lease sales in the best places — those with the highest resource potential, lowest conflict and established infrastructure — and removes regions that are simply not right to lease,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
He added, that given the Arctic environment and industry’s declining interest in the area, forgoing lease sales in the Arctic is the right path forward.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, vowed to overturn the administration’s five-year plan when Mr. Trump takes office.
“In its final days, the Obama administration is throwing up more barriers to American energy development,” Mr. Ryan said.
He suggests this plan to exclude the resource-rich Arctic from exploration possibilities squanders our ability to harness the abundant, affordable energy sources that power our economy.