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President Barack Obama walks across the South Lawn of the White House from Marine One, Tuesday, March 29, 2016, in Washington, as he returns from Atlanta where he participated in a discussion at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama announced yesterday what he called a permanent ban on new oil and gas drilling in federal waters in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans in a bold move to preserve an environmental legacy that cannot be so quickly undone by Donald Trump, his successor. The announcement would ban offshore drilling in roughly 98 percent of federally owned Arctic waters (about 115 million acres), an area home to endangered species including polar bears and bowhead whales. The block would also protect 3.8 million acres of coral canyons off the Atlantic Coast which stretch from Norfolk, Virginia, to the Canadian border and protect unique deepwater coral and rare species of fish.

Obama invoked an obscure provision of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, a 1953 law which permits him to act unilaterally––legal experts expressed confidence that the ban will withstand legal challenges by the incoming administration. (The president-elect has claimed that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, has openly derided Obama's environmental regulations, and has made fossil fuel mining and oil drilling a cornerstone of his economic program.)

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