World Bulletin / News Desk
Leases for offshore oil and natural gas drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic regions are now designated "indefinitely off limits", the White House said in a statement Tuesday.
The move includes vast majority of U.S. waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in the Arctic, and 31 regions in the Atlantic "due to their critical and irreplaceable ecological value”.
Canada will designate all Arctic Canadian waters indefinitely off limits for licensing of oil and gas exploration and production, the statement added.
The U.S. and Canada have taken steps to protect Arctic communities and preserve the region’s environment, according to the statement, such as lowering the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic.
President Barack Obama used his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act passed in 1953 that allows the president "to withdraw areas from oil and gas leasing, exploration, and development", according to a separate White House statement.
The statement underlined the potential risks of offshore drilling in the Arctic such as its harsh environment, geographic remoteness and lack of infrastructure.
"The consequences of an oil spill in this region could be substantially detrimental to the ecosystem," it added.
The new regulation is expected to hamper President-elect Donald Trump's plans to increase oil and gas production.
During his campaign, Trump promised to "unleash" America’s energy potential by raising hydrocarbon production and providing leases on federal territory.