Obama administration may block new Arctic oil and gas drilling permits

The Obama administration could block the sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in US Arctic waters, reports Bloomberg, citing unnamed people said to be familiar with the plan. An official announcement is expected soon, although it would be subject to a 60-day congressional review and could be rewritten by President-elect Donald Trump.

The Interior Department had already removed Atlantic waters from consideration, so any decision to leave out the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska would limit new drilling lease auctions between 2017 and 2022 mainly to the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil companies have lobbied the Obama administration to open up more areas for offshore drilling, while environmental pressure groups have argued for even tighter restrictions.