Obama lays down Bristol Bay mining ban

The Pebble Mine  :Photo Courtesy of Per-Hampus Stålhandske
The Pebble Mine :Photo Courtesy of Per-Hampus Stålhandske

President Obama on Tuesday again used his executive authority to enact an environmental priority as he indefinitely barred oil and gas exploration of Alaska’s picturesque Bristol Bay to protect some of the nation’s most productive commercial fisheries.

Mr. Obama first put the ecologically sensitive area of the Bering Sea — home to an important population of whales, seals and sea lions — off limits to oil rigs in 2010, but that restriction was set to expire in 2017, several months after he leaves office. With the new executive memorandum that he signed in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Mr. Obama made the ban permanent unless a future president acts to reverse it and allow leasing of the waters of the bay.

“It is a beautiful natural wonder, and it’s something that’s too precious to us to just be putting out to the highest bidder,” Mr. Obama said in a one-minute video announcing his decision, which was posted on the White House website.

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