The next president will decide the fate of pristine waters 3,000 miles away from the Oval Office — a decision that would resonate for decades.

Nearly 400 scientists sent a letter Wednesday calling on President Obama to close the Arctic to the oil industry. Right now, Obama’s five-year draft plan for offshore drilling offers two lease sales, one in the Beaufort Sea in 2020 and one in the Chukchi Sea in 2022.

But it’s not just Obama who will determine the fate of the Arctic; his successor’s choices will outlast his or her tenure by a long shot.