President Obama is taking multiple actions that could hamstring President-Elect Donald Trump’s plans to unleash domestic energy production, which is a major component of the Trump economic agenda.
On Tuesday, Obama banned offshore energy exploration in massive portions of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.
“The law allows a president to withdraw any currently unleased lands in the Outer Continental Shelf from future lease sales. There is no provision in the law that allows the executive’s successor to repeal the decision, so President-elect Donald Trump would not be able to easily brush aside the action,” reported CNBC.
The law in question is legislation from 1953 that deal with offshore leases. Advocates of American energy exploration contend this is simply Obama’s gift to the environmental lobby.
“There have been a lot of environmental groups, especially over the past few months, who have been urging the administration to take some sort of action,” said Chris Warren, vice president for communications at the Institute for Energy Research.
“This is pretty much the Obama administration giving an early Christmas gift to the ‘keep it in the ground’ activists, these folks who want to keep all our oil, gas, and coal resources in the ground,” he added.
Warren suspects the waters in question could yield trillions of barrels of oil, but he says greater energy independence isn’t even the most important result if those areas were to be opened up
“We produced a study a few years back at what would happen if we were to produce our oil and gas resources offshore in the Atlantic, the Arctic and the Gulf (of Mexico). These numbers are staggering. You’re talking about hundreds of thousands of jobs a year, hundreds of billions of dollars in GDP output per year, higher wages for folks, more revenue for government,” said Warren.
Warren says the method by which Obama is locking the offshore areas seems suspect.
“This is a pretty obscure provision in an old law. It’s never been used in this manner so we’re not quite sure how the next administration can take care of it but they certainly will be working hard to do so,” said Warren.
He sees two possible remedies.
“One way they can do this is by undesignating this area. Of course, they’ll be sued after that but they’ll take it to the court system and we’ll see how it shakes out from there. Congress could also pass legislation to reverse this,” said Warren.
Obama’s efforts are not limited to offshore exploration. Earlier this month, the administration blocked the controversial path of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This week, it also finalized the Stream Protection Rule, which mandates distances that coal mining operations must keep away from waterways.
Warren says the latter policy continues Obama’s strangling of the coal industry.
“This is really just another way that the Obama administration is trying to take coal off the table. They want to prevent it from being mined. They want to prevent it from being used in our electricity system with the clean power plant regulation, which was the hallmark of this administration’s climate agenda. This is just one more regulation that the Obama administration is trying to push out the door,” said Warren.
So is Obama succeeding at putting roadblocks in the way of the Trump energy agenda? Warren says there are new hurdles to clear but that Trump still has other good options.
“Our federal lands have tons of oil, gas, and coal resources that have been held under lock and key by this current administration. It hasn’t been through regulation. It’s been by slow-walking permits, offering very few leases to companies to produce these resources. That’s something the Trump administration can come in and do fairly quickly,” said Warren.
Warren says the Obama and Trump approaches to energy could not be more different.
“We’re not talking about favoring one source over another, whether it’s coal or natural gas or wind or solar or whatever. It’s about allowing Americans to make those choices for themselves,” said Warren.
“Under this current administration, that hasn’t been the case. It’s been throwing money and mandating the sources that President Obama prefers. Under the Trump administration, I think we’ll see an end to that,” said Warren.