Obama has set out to make his mark felt before leaving office next month, offering a record number of pardons and commutations in the lead up to Christmas and the New Year. He is also set to invoke the provision of a 1953 law that would allow him to withdraw U.S. waters from oil and gas leasing for the long term future. The decision has yet to be announced and so cannot be confirmed, but a related decision by Canada has been confirmed as set to be announced whenever President Obama makes his decisionpublic. Canada may opt for a five year pause on activities in the Beaufort Sea to the north of Northwest Canadian Territories. Although it is widely believed that Obama will take advantage of the provision, it is not certain. The law has most often been used to this point in order to preserve marine sanctuaries, walrus habitats and coral reefs.
"If the reports are right, then this is a gift to the public and to our kids that will rank with any in the history of American conservation," said Niel Lawrence, the Alaska director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Not everyone is in agreement with the ban, however.
"Fortunately, there is no such thing as a permanent ban, and we look forward to working with the new administration on fulfilling the will of American voters on energy production," said Erik Milito, a director at the American Petroleum Institute.