Scientists Call on Obama to Enact Trump-Proof Arctic Drilling Ban

Outgoing president must do everything in his power to protect against threat of 'drill, baby, drill' under Trump.

With the proverbial bell tolling for the end of the Arctic ice sheet, as well as for the Obama presidency, dozens of leading scientists are calling on the president to pass a permanent ban on fossil fuel drilling in the Arctic—one that cannot be easily undone by his climate-denying successor, Donald Trump.

On Monday, 34 prominent scientists, including former members of the Obama administration, sent a letter to the outgoing president explaining why such a ban is crucial for the preservation of the pristine Arctic ecosystem, as well as for the future of the planet.

"You have identified disruption of the earth's climate as a significant concern of your administration because it poses a grave threat to the future of our planet," the letter states.

But, the letter continues, the president's efforts on climate will be betrayed so long as the Arctic remains under future threat of fossil fuel development:

We can lay no claim to sustainability if we continue to develop the Arctic's offshore fossil fuels.

"With Trump threatening to return to the days of 'drill, baby, drill,' President Obama should be doing everything in his power to secure our public lands and waters, climate, and communities from the significant and irreversible dangers of fossil fuel development."

The letter comes days after President Barack Obama announced that the Arctic is no longer part of the Interior Department's five-year-plan for offshore drilling in federal waters.

But climate hawks want the outgoing president to go even further, particularly because the president-elect—who believes climate change is a "bunch of bunk," according to Trump's incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus—has made clear his disdain for federal environmental regulations.

"Under a Trump administration, the Interior Department could revise its five-year plan and open these areas to extraction within a few years," Grist reported last week. However, a permanent ban on Arctic drilling would not be so easy to reverse.

Specifically, scientists, lawmakers, and environmental advocates are asking Obama to use the executive powers granted to him under section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (pdf) to permanently protect both the Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean.

"With Trump threatening to return to the days of 'drill, baby, drill,' President Obama should be doing everything in his power to secure our public lands and waters, climate, and communities from the significant and irreversible dangers of fossil fuel development.

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