Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, the lead sponsor of both the Keep It in the Ground Act and the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act, released the following statement after President Obama announced a permanent ban on offshore drilling in citizen-owned waters of the Arctic and Atlantic, including 3.8 million acres in the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast and 115 million acres in the U.S. Arctic Ocean:
“Drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic poses a grave threat to our environment. The cold and remote Arctic ecosystems are extremely fragile. Drilling there is the height of irresponsibility and drilling in the Atlantic poses a huge risk of damage to important fisheries, estuaries, beaches and coastal businesses.
“To prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change, it is imperative that we continue the momentum to Keep It in the Ground. Today’s announcement sends a powerful message to an incoming Administration bent on outsourcing its energy policy to the oil and gas industry: our public lands and waters should and must be managed for the public good, not for private profit.”
Under section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, President Obama has authority to withdraw U.S. waters from future oil and gas leasing; future Presidents do not have the authority to undo the withdrawal.
Senator Merkley has been a leading voice in the movement to combat drilling on our public lands and waters, continuously calling for the Arctic to be put off-limits to offshore drilling. Last year, Senator Merkley introduced the Keep It in the Ground Act to end all new leases for coal, oil, gas and tar sands extraction on federal public lands and waters.