President Donald Trump on Friday froze all research in the Arctic, a move that scientists said was “dangerous” and a “disaster for the environment.”
“This is a dangerous decision by President Trump,” said Michael Brune, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.
“He has no business telling the people of the world that the Arctic is a ‘free-for-all.’
It’s not a free-for a moment.””
The Trump administration is a reckless president,” Brune said.
“The president’s policies are dangerous, and he has no respect for the scientific consensus on the Arctic.”
The president, who has called the Arctic a “toxic stew” and said it would “take a massive environmental catastrophe” to get it off the federal list of the endangered, announced the freeze Friday evening in the Oval Office, surrounded by scientists and advisers.
The freeze, which will take effect immediately, is aimed at preventing future oil and gas drilling and development in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, and the development of new drilling platforms in the Chukotka and Chugach seas, the president’s office said in a statement.
It is part of the administration’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the region, the statement said.
The administration has said that it will reverse the freeze once the United States leaves the Paris climate accord.
It also has sought to halt oil and natural gas drilling in the northern U.S. by 2020, citing the economic impact on the industry.
In a statement, Trump said, “The Arctic will be one of the most important areas for our nation in the future and the Arctic will always be an open, untapped resource.”
“As we exit the Paris agreement, we will begin the work of re-opening our Arctic to drilling and exploration,” the president said.
“There is no question that Arctic oil and energy are the lifeblood of the United State, and we will continue to open the Arctic to exploration, drilling, and energy production.
But we must also continue to protect our environment, which is one of our most precious assets,” he added.”
It’s not enough for the president to say he’s ‘rethinking’ the Arctic.
He has to make good on his pledge to the American people to re-evaluate our approach to the Arctic and the world,” Brune told CNN.
The decision came a day after Trump signed an executive order that directed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to begin reviewing federal land and water management for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Trump also ordered the Interior Department to prepare a list of proposed Arctic oil-and-gas drilling sites.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is tasked with reviewing and recommending potential drilling sites for oil and environmental projects.
In March, Zinke announced a new list of potential sites, which included Alaska, the Chugatch, the Beau, the Caspian Sea and the Yukon.