On Friday, the Obama administration banned drilling in the Arctic. The ban, which was put in place by the Department of the Interior, temporarily ends exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and prevents companies from drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement about the ban:
‘The plan focuses on lease sales in the best places — those with highest resource potential, lowest conflict, and established infrastructure — and removes regions that are simply not right to lease. Given the unique and challenging Arctic environment and industry’s declining interest in the area, forgoing lease sales in the Arctic is the right path forward.’
The Obama administration has received much praise from environmentalists as a result of the ban. Jacqueline Savitz, a senior vice president for Oceana, a marine-advocacy group, said the Interior Department’s choice to move forward with the ban “demonstrates a commitment to prioritizing common sense, economics and science ahead of industry favoritism and politics as usual.”
Mere hours after the Department of the Interior moved forward with their ban, however, House Speaker Paul Ryan released a statement criticizing the choice. Ryan accused the Obama administration of “throwing up more barriers to American energy development” and promised to “work to overturn this plan.”
‘In its final days, the Obama administration is throwing up more barriers to American energy development. This plan to exclude the resource-rich Arctic from exploration possibilities squanders our ability to harness the abundant, affordable energy sources that power our economy. Our Better Way agenda outlines a plan to unleash our energy potential and create American jobs. That’s why we will work to overturn this plan, and to open up the Arctic and other offshore areas for development.’
Paul Ryan’s promise, while unsettling, will not be carried out very quickly, according to The Washington Post. The five-year plan that the Obama administration has put in place can only be thrown out after the new administration has prepared a supplemental report to replace it. The preparation of this report could take up to two years, and even after it is prepared, the federal government will then have to organize a lease sale for the companies that want to drill in the banned areas.
That being said, it seems certain that a Trump administration will try its hardest to overthrow the new arctic drilling ban, regardless of the amount of time it will take.
Trump himself has made his views on drilling incredibly clear. In 2011, during an interview with Neil Cavuto of Your World, Trump said about the speed with which the U.S. is drilling for oil, “I think it’s incredible that we’re going slow on drilling. I think it’s beyond anything I’ve ever seen that we’re going slow on drilling. There are always going to be problems. You’re going to have an oil spill. You clean it up and you fix it up and it’ll be fine.”
Since he began his presidential campaign, president-elect Trump has upped the ante even more, promising to cut back on regulations, despite warnings from various economists.
The fact that Paul Ryan has promised to keep with Trump’s promises and overturn the Obama administration’s plan so soon after it was implemented seems indicative of what the next four years will be like under a President Trump. The fears that many have expressed about Trump taking the country backwards, not just with regards to the environment but also to LGBT and women’s rights, have been confirmed by Ryan’s quick action.
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images.