With a flourish of his pen Tuesday, President Obama signed a presidential memorandum putting 30 million acres of Alaska’s North Aleutian Basin off limits to oil and natural gas drilling.
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“These waters are too special and too valuable to auction off to the highest bidder,” President Obama said in a video statement.
Included in the memorandum, is Alaska’s Bristol Bay — the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery and possible home to the contentious Pebble Mine. In 2010, Obama temporarily banned oil and gas drilling around Bristol Bay, but his memorandum signed yesterday puts the area off limits indefinitely.
This action comes after the Obama administration declared 266 million acres — twice the size of California — of Alaskan coastline to be protected habitat of the Arctic ringed seal, which is listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.