Washington (AFP) - US President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at lifting bans on drilling for oil and gas in offshore Arctic and Atlantic areas, saying it would pull in "billions of dollars" for America and create jobs.
However, Trump made no mention of the environmental rationale for the bans, brought in by his predecessor Barack Obama.
"Our country's blessed with incredible natural resources, including abundant offshore oil and natural gas reserves, but the federal government has kept 94 percent of these offshore areas closed for exploration and production," the president said before journalists in the White House.
"This deprives our country of potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth," he said.
Trump's order calls for a review of the Obama-era bans with the goal of allowing "responsible development of offshore areas that will bring revenue to our treasury and jobs to our workers."
Obama's indefinite prohibition on new drilling in US waters in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska, including most of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, and in 31 underwater canyons in the Atlantic Ocean was enacted last December under a 1953 law.
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act gives the president power to withdraw offshore areas from commercial use. Previous presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton also invoked the legislation.