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Obama Said to Use 1953 Law to Restrict Offshore Oil Drilling

  • Move to permanently protect parts of Atlantic, Arctic
  • Canada to join in coordinated announcement of restrictions
The sun shines on Point Barrow, Alaska, and the Arctic Ocean at the northern tip of the United States, July 16, 2002.
Photographer: Laura Rauch/AP Photo
Updated on

President Barack Obama is preparing to block the sale of new offshore drilling rights in most of the U.S. Arctic and parts of the Atlantic, a move that could indefinitely restrict oil production there, according to people familiar with the decision.

Obama will invoke a provision in a 1953 law that gives him wide latitude to withdraw U.S. waters from future oil and gas leasing, said the people who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been announced. Until now the law has been used mostly to permanently preserve coral reefs, walrus feeding grounds and marine sanctuaries.