Senators led the call for President Obama to use authority under Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to permanently protect both areas


Boston (December 20, 2016) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) today praised the Obama administration for taking steps to permanently protect large parts of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from offshore oil drilling. In October, Senators Markey and Booker led a group of 12 other senators in calling on President Obama to use his authority under Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) to permanently protect the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from offshore oil and gas drilling.


“By using his authority under Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to permanently protect these oceans from offshore drilling, President Obama is cementing a profound legacy of environmental and natural resources protection,” said Senator Markey. “We know that in the Trump administration, there will be a Big Oil bullseye on our coastlines for offshore drilling. As President-elect Trump nominates fossil fuel allies to his cabinet, President Obama has instead put the interests of millions of Americans ahead of those of Big Oil with these permanent protections. The Atlantic Coast is both a natural wonder and economic engine, and I will continue to fight to protect Georges Bank and New England’s waters. We must not allow the Trump administration to open our waters off of New England to dangerous offshore oil and gas drilling.”


“I applaud President Obama for answering our calls to permanently protect vulnerable waters in the Atlantic and the Arctic oceans from the potential devastating effects of a catastrophic oil spill,” said Senator Booker. “We must now stand ready to fight any efforts by the incoming Administration to undermine these historic protections for our environment, our economy, and our coastal communities.”


The statute in OCSLA states, “The President of the United States may, from time to time, withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the outer Continental Shelf.” The absence of explicit language in OCSLA that references the authority to revoke those withdrawals, in contrast to other statutes like the Federal Land Policy and Management Act that does includes language to both withdraw lands from certain uses and also to revoke those withdrawals, indicates that this statute empowers the President to permanently withdraw federal lands offshore from oil and gas drilling.