As President Obama prepares to leave office, he couldn’t resist taking a Parthian shot at the incoming Trump Administration by banning offshore oil drilling in major portions off America’s Arctic and the parthian-shotAtlantic coasts.

Green groups claim the ban is permanent, while energy advocates claim President Trump can undo it via executive order.

We posted an explanation by energy analyst Michael Bastasch at

“Obama ordered his drilling ban be ‘reviewed every five years through a climate and marine science-based life-cycle assessment.’ Basically, applying a climate test to offshore drilling on the assumption such reviews will always find it damaging to the environment.  Environmentalists have been urging him for months to use Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, a 1953 law, to block offshore drilling.”

We posted the entire law for you to review at

Reading the law indicates that climate campaigners are overconfident.

When Congress passed a law governing the U.S. outer continental shelf in 1953, it clearly expressed the law’s intent:

“[T]he outer Continental Shelf is a vital national resource reserve held by the Federal Government for the public, which should be made available for expeditions and orderly development, subject to environmental safeguards, in a manner which is consistent with the maintenance of competition and other national needs.”

Congress recognized the importance of the resources off America’s coast.  Congress’ intent was to make the energy and other resources congressavailable to the U.S. economy.  The environmental provisions are there to ensure safe, responsible extraction.

Congress also believed that some fragile areas should be protected and so provided that, “the President of the United States may, from time to time, withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the outer Continental Shelf.”

President Eisenhower used the provision as intended when he withdrew an area of the Florida Keys from development.

Subsequent presidents saw the wisdom in Ike’s decision and let it stand.  However, other presidential “withdrawals” were not “permanent” at all.  They were reversed by succeeding presidents.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that “in 1998, President Bill Clinton extended through 2012 an offshore drilling ban put in place by President George H.W. Bush – but in 2008, President George W. Bush cut four years off of that Clinton proclamation.”

President Obama who famously declared his intent to bypass Congress by stating, “I have a pen and I have a phone,” this week advised President-elect Trump not to rely heavily on executive orders.  Simultaneously he issued the drilling ban.

President Trump should overturn this unwise drilling ban.  When the inevitable legal challenges arise any unbiased court should uphold his order as he has congressional intent, precedent, and his own constitutional authority on his side.


  • Craig Rucker is a co-founder of CFACT and currently serves as its president.