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Environment

Obama Protects ‘Fragile and Unique’ Arctic Ocean From Offshore Drilling

In a last-ditch effort to protect the Arctic from oil exploration, President Obama said no to leasing offshore drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska.

The Obama administration took the Arctic seas out of a five-year drilling plan, which would lease offshore regions out for oil drilling. No new oil drilling is allowed off the Atlantic Ocean either.

This is a huge win for environmentalists who say that drilling in the Arctic could disrupt and disturb whales, walruses, seals, and other marine life. Noise pollution, the disastrous effects of an oil spill, remoteness, and greenhouse gas emissions place the Arctic as a highly concerning location for drilling.

Read More: The Arctic Is an Unbelievable 36 Degrees Hotter Than Normal

"Given the unique and challenging Arctic environment and industry's declining interest in the area, foregoing lease sales in the Arctic is the right path forward," said US Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell.

The drilling plan will instead lease offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, primarily off the coasts of Miss., Ala., La., and Texas between 2017 and 2022.

These locations chosen would have the least amount of damage potential and higher resource return, according to Jewell.

"The plan focuses lease sales in the best places," said Jewell. "Those with the highest resource potential, lowest conflict and established infrastructure - and removes regions that are simply not right to lease."

Read More: Obama: Army Corp Considering Other Routes for Dakota Pipeline

Jewell and the rest of the Obama administration are not the only ones who agree the Arctic is no place for offshore drilling.

Oil company, Royal Dutch Shell PLC (commonly known as Shell) announced plans last year to halt all future exploration into offshore drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

The decision to cut oil drilling in the Arctic came after severalpetitions and letters from over 400 scientists and environmentalists this summer that targeted the Obama administration.

Pro-fossil-fuel President-elect Trump can overturn the plan, staying true to his agenda to expand oil drilling. But it will be difficult to fully enact oil drilling plans. 

Read More: 6 Ways Trump Can Unwind Obama's Climate Change Record

Looks like Trump will have another climate change “roadblock” to overcome from the outgoing Obama administration. Plus, as other world leaders pressure Trump on climate change, he may just decide to stick with the progress already being made.