After days of saying how unfair and undemocratic it was for the North Carolina legislature to take power away from the incoming governor, President Obama sought yesterday to take power away from the incoming President. Specifically, Barack Obama used Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to block Donald Trump from authorizing oil drilling leases in perpetuity in the Atlantic Arctic areas.
But there is a problem. Democrats have still not come to terms with the use of precedents. Jamie Dupree breaks it down here.
In a nutshell, Barack Obama
used a 1953 law known as the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, to block new drilling leases, “for a time period without specific expiration.”
“This withdrawal prevents consideration of this area for any future mineral leasing for purposes of exploration, development, or production,” the President wrote, extending the drilling ban to almost 4 million acres in the Atlantic Ocean, and well over 100 million acres in the Arctic.
The law itself uses this language:
The President of the United States may, from time to time, withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the outer Continental Shelf.
While Democrats said that a President Trump could not reverse the Obama declaration, past experience tells a different story.
For example in 1998, President Bill Clinton extended through 2012 an offshore drilling ban put in place by President George H.W. Bush – but in 2008, President George W. Bush cut four years off of that Clinton proclamation.
In his order issued in July of 2008, Mr. Bush used the language “without specific expiration” – in other words, no time limit – that same language was used in today’s order by President Obama.
“I hereby withdraw from disposition by leasing for a time period without specific expiration,” Mr. Obama ordered.
Both Presidents cited provision 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act from 1953 to do the exact opposite thing – Obama taking certain lands away from possible drilling, Bush making the areas eligible again for oil and gas exploration.
Barack Obama, so eager to preserve and expand the power of the Presidency, acquiesced to George W. Bush’s use of the same provision 12(a). The precedent and interpretation were established by Bush and agreed to by Obama, who only now, at the end of his administration, claims a contradictory interpretation that runs counter to the precedent he already accepted.
That won’t actually fly in court because it is proof Obama does not really believe his actions permanently prevent future presidents from acting. All it does is drive up the litigation cost.
And let’s be honest here, all this does is wave a red flag in front of Donald Trump drawing his attention to a challenge he will gladly accept.