Trudeau announces review of Arctic strategy, joint drilling ban with U.S.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama announced a ban on offshore oil and gas activity in the Arctic in a joint statement issued Tuesday.

“Today, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau are proud to launch actions ensuring a strong, sustainable and viable Arctic economy and ecosystem, with low-impact shipping, science-based management of marine resources, and free from the future risks of offshore oil and gas activity,” the statement read.


In September, Obama became the first sitting president to travel north of the Arctic Circle. The joint Canada-U.S. statement covers oil and gas, community development and fisheries. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Obama has permanently banned oil and gas development in U.S. waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Canada declared a five-year ban on new licensing in all Arctic waters, with a review based on climate and marine science at the end of that period.

The Canadian government is also revising its policy for the North. The Liberals said they are replacing the previous government’s northern strategy with an “Arctic policy framework.”

Former prime minister Stephen Harper’s northern strategy put an emphasis on asserting Canadian sovereignty through the Canadian Rangers and addressing economic concerns through natural resource development.

There will be a specific component of the policy geared towards Inuit people.

Canada and the U.S. also announced they will start a process to identify low-impact shipping corridors. The process will include determining where vessels will not be allowed to sail and gauging what kind of infrastructure and emergency response systems will be needed for northern shipping routes.

Arctic Offshore Drilling Obama

The oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer, one of two drilling rigs Royal Dutch Shell planned to outfit for Arctic oil exploration, is shown in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

Both countries said they would regulate the development of fisheries in the Arctic. The U.S. said it will support existing commercial fishing closures in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Canada will work with northern and Indigenous communities to build Arctic fisheries based on scientific regulation.

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Trudeau announces review of Arctic strategy, joint drilling ban with U.S.

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