That move probably tees up a legal challenge because Obama used a novel interpretation of a provision in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Obama's supporters and critics disagree on whether the provision gives Trump the authority to override his ban, and environmentalists are likely to sue over Trump's order.
"Trump's short-sighted order reverses climate progress and imperils coastal communities, irreplaceable wildlife and our shared future. It is also against the law. We will go to court to enforce the law and ensure President Obama's protections remain in place," Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen said in a statement.
The America First Offshore Energy Executive Order instructs the Interior Department to revise the current-five year schedule for leasing blocks of the U.S. outer continental shelf, the waters off the U.S. shore that the federal government governs. That process, which includes conducting environmental impact studies and taking public comments, takes at least two years.
U.S. outer continental shelf
Revisions happen regularly when a new president takes office; Obama initiated a new five-year planning process in his first term. In its plan for 2017-2022, the Obama administration offered a conservative selection of leases in the western and central Gulf of Mexico and Alaska's Cook Inlet, leaving contested areas like the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico off the table.
The White House suggested it would prefer to expand its options, stressing in a fact sheet that most of the outer continental shelf is not currently available for development.
"Past administrations have been overly restrictive of offshore energy exploration and have taken off the table hundreds of millions of offshore acres for development. As a result, 94 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf is off-limits to responsible energy development," the administration said in a statement.
To be sure, and a host of factors play a role in whether or not territory is put up for lease, including local support, industry interest, oil prices and availability of current geological data.
But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauded the action Friday, saying past management of offshore U.S. assets has deprived consumers and businesses of "vast opportunities."
"We are hopeful that this evaluation will lead to opportunities for production in the Mid-Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, including the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and expanded access in Alaska," Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the chamber's Institute for 21st Century Energy, said in a statement.