Congratulations to President Obama for Doing the Right Thing in the Arctic

Coming on the heels of headlines about Exxon’s duplicity in covering up climate change and more particularly Shell’s failure to find as much oil in the Arctic as they had hoped, the Obama Administration is canceling oil lease sales:

The Obama administration took a number of actions Friday to restrict future offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean. The Interior Department is canceling two lease sales it had planned over the next year and a half for Arctic drilling rights and denying two oil companies’ requests to extend the time on leases that they currently hold.

The decision comes weeks after Royal Dutch Shell pulled out of the Arctic for the foreseeable future, saying the little oil it found in this summer’s drilling is not worth the cost.The administration said its decisions are based on the current oil markets and low interest in Arctic drilling.

But it’s also a significant action to crack down on one of the most controversial types of offshore oil and gas drilling that has environmentalists fired up in opposition. “In light of Shell’s announcement, the amount of acreage already under lease and current market conditions, it does not make sense to prepare for lease sales in the Arctic in the next year and a half,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement, complimenting her staff’s work overseeing the safety and environmental standards of Shell’s drilling in the Chukchi Sea, about 70 miles northwest of Alaska’s coast.

One could have hoped that the President and the Interior would have taken this course of action no matter how much oil had been found in the Arctic, but doing the right thing for both environmental and immediately practical reasons is better than not doing the right thing at all.

Which is precisely what Republicans like Marco Rubio want to do with their drill, drill, drill policies:

Sen. Marco Rubio wants to overhaul and limit the way that environmental regulations are written and give states more control over energy. The Republican senator from Florida and presidential hopeful largely targets environmental restrictions favored by the Obama administration and Democrats in his energy plan released Friday…

Rubio, who consistently ranks among the top five GOP presidential candidates, is promising to dismantle much of Obama’s climate and environmental program.

He would undo the limits on carbon dioxide from power plants and a rule on the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, and implement a new “budget” for regulators to limit the costs of new regulations. Rubio’s plan includes a number of items that oil and natural gas interests have long sought, including lifting the ban on oil exports, expediting natural gas export permits and approving the Keystone XL pipeline.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, wants to defund the EPA entirely.

No matter how upset environmental progressives may become with the Democratic Party and its leadership–and they have many reasons to be–there’s no choice but to get off the sidelines and ensure that Democrats continue to hold the reins of executive power. Good things are being done, slowly but surely, and the alternative is simply unthinkable.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.