Presidential Memoranda Regarding Mineral Leasing

On December 20, 2016 the White House announced two memoranda “withdrawing from disposition by mineral leasing” specific areas of the outer continental shelf. One memorandum designates the Chuckchi Sea and portions of the Beaufort Sea, and the other designates the areas of the outer continental shelf associated with 26 major canyons and canyon complexes off the Atlantic coast.

They both cite authority granted to the president in section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1341(a). The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is also cited as having jurisdiction over these areas.

Quoting from the memoranda: “The withdrawal directed by this memorandum prevents consideration of withdrawn areas for any mineral leasing for purposes of exploration, development, or production.”

Both also close with the same statement: “Nothing in this withdrawal affects rights under existing leases in the withdrawn areas.”

Unlike most memoranda, these made the national news as being significant for environmental protection. Both were greeted with enthusiasm by environmental activists and, not surprisingly, decried by oil companies. It therefore bears watching closely after January 20, 2017 to see if these are rescinded.


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