Obama Prevents Sonic Blasts in Atlantic, Mostly Closes Arctic to Drilling

Adding to the flurry of final actions to protect the environment against the incoming administration, the Bureau of Ocean Management has denied all permits for sonic blasting in the Atlantic Ocean.

In late December, President Obama permanently closed the Atlantic coast to oil drilling, so why would anyone need to explore for oil and gas?

These ear-splitting blasts are brutal for marine life, making it impossible to hear much less communicate. Incredibly, blasts occur every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for weeks to months on end. The noise is so intense that it can be heard up to 2,500 miles away!!

Besides closing off the Atlantic, Obama responded to environmental community pleas by permanently protecting 98% of US Arctic waters from drilling –  125 million acres. Canada joined the US by protecting all its Arctic waters, and the two countries are phasing out the use of Heavy Fuel Oil there.

“These actions, and Canada’s parallel actions, protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on Earth,” says Obama. “It would take decades to fully develop the production infrastructure necessary for any large-scale oil and gas leasing production in the region – at a time when we need to continue to move decisively away from fossil fuels.”

Marine wildlife are struggling from much warmer waters caused by climate change. From polar bears, walruses and whales in the Arctic, to lobster, salmon, and scallops in the Atlantic, most species face a risky future.

A “small” 3 million-acre area in the Beaufort Sea remains open for drilling, as do waters under Alaska’s jurisdiction, and Obama had already greatly expanded leasing opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The world is watching Trump fill his cabinet with climate deniers. Putting offshore oil and gas off limits is the best way President Obama can protect our climate future. We wish Mr. Obama had extended protections to other areas, like the Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico, that have largely been off limits to drilling, but we’re geared up resist Trump’s attempts to drill, baby, drill,” says Miyoko Sakashita at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Expect lots of litigation if the Trump administration tries to overturn the ban.

Read our articles, Obama Scrambles to Protect Environmental Legacy and What Obama Did, What Trump Will Do.

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