His time in the office may be coming to an end, but you couldn't accuse Barack Obama of slacking off.

Over the past month, the outgoing US President has implemented a number of measures that will make life more difficult for incoming leader Donald Trump.

While Trump may seek to reverse these decisions, it's bound to prove both challenging and time-consuming.

Attempting to stretch one's influence is hardly a new concept in the political transition period, but it could still keep some of Trump's policy plans at bay for several years.

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office. Photo / AP
President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office. Photo / AP

Undoing his measures would not be an impossible task. But according to University of Melbourne American history lecturer Emma Shortis, it's more a question of whether the Republican party will take action or not.

"I think what's in Obama's and the broader administration's mind is that often when you see a change of government, instead of rolling back an administration, you just don't enforce the regulations," she told news.com.au.

"So the idea is that if and when the Democrats get back into power, the regulations are already there and they just have to start enforcing them."

She believes some of Obama's policies - like his recent decision to send US troops to Poland - were specifically implemented as a reaction to Trump's election win.

"If Hillary Clinton had won, (Obama) would have been much more assured of a continuation of his foreign policy," she explained. "There wouldn't have been that need to send a strong message to NATO."

But other policy moves, like his recent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling, have been in the works for years.

Here are some of Obama's implemented "safeguards" over the past month:


President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington. Photo / AP
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington. Photo / AP

Abortion remains a controversial issue in the US, and throughout his campaign Trump repeatedly stated he is "pro-life".

During his campaign, he stated that there "has to be some form of punishment" for women who seek illegal abortions, although he backtracked on this statement following public outrage.

Trump has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood, which specialises in low-cost care for poor women.

"He was fairly liberal initially, but conservative responses from the Republican Party have pushed him further right," Shortis said. "For some Republicans it's a huge issue."

For example, Trump's incoming Vice President Mike Pence signed a bill last year to prohibit abortion on the basis of race, gender or disability of the foetus in Indiana.

In December, the Obama administration issued a final rule to bar states from withholding funds from family-planning organisations, including Planned Parenthood.

The landmark rule blocks state and local governments from denying funds to family planning providers.

Regardless of whether or not they perform abortions, the clinics use grants to pay for contraceptives, sexually health checks, pregnancy care and cancer screenings.

The New York Times notes that undoing Obama's new rule on the issue would be a time-consuming process.


Obama has enacted a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in areas of the Arctic and Atlantic Seaboard.

In a last-ditch effort to lock in environmental protections before Trump takes office, Obama used a 1953 law that allows presidents to block the sale of new offshore drilling and mining rights.

In a statement, Obama said: "These actions, and Canada's parallel actions, protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on earth. They reflect the scientific assessment that, even with the high safety standards that both our countries have put in place, the risks of an oil spill in this region are significant and our ability to clean up from a spill in the region's harsh conditions is limited.

"By contrast, it would take decades to fully develop the production infrastructure necessary for any large-scale oil and gas leasing production in the region - at a time when we need to continue to move decisively away from fossil fuels."

During his campaign, Trump vowed to unleash the country's untapped energy reserves and exploit fossil fuels.

He's also repeatedly questioned climate change science, and vowed to tear up the Paris Agreement - a global initiative aimed at strengthening the response to climate change through setting targets for the reduction of CO2 use.

Lobbyists for oil companies have already spoken out against the ban, saying they fully expect Trump to take action.

This will not be a quick or easy task.


File - In this Jan. 2, 2017, file photo, protesters rally against the Dakota Access Pipeline behind the 128th Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. Photo / AP
File - In this Jan. 2, 2017, file photo, protesters rally against the Dakota Access Pipeline behind the 128th Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. Photo / AP

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a controversial underground oil pipeline project currently under construction.

Its potential impact on the environment has led to objections, in particular for its proximity to Lake Oahe, a Native American reservation.

Officials in November had delayed the decision, saying more discussion on the $3.8 billion project was needed.

Last month, the US Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement that would allow the pipeline to cross beneath the lake, stressing the need to "work responsibly and expeditiously to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing".

Trump's administration has long expressed support for the pipeline project, and Shortis told news.com.au he would be unlikely to align himself with the protesters, and commit to waiting for an alternative route.


Last week, President Obama deployed 4000 troops to Poland as part of his "reset" with Russia.

This marks the first time a NATO ally has attempted a continuous deployment of troops since the Cold War ended.

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo welcomed the troops to her country during a formal ceremony over the weekend, saying it was a "great day" that would help Poland's security.

The move symbolised that the US is still committed to its NATO obligations, despite the fact that Trump has frequently criticised the alliance and threatened to pull the US out of it.

Just this week, he blasted NATO as "obsolete", accusing the majority of the 28 member-states of "not paying what they're supposed to pay" at America's expense.

Russia was incensed by Obama's move, with a Kremlin spokesperson telling journalists the country sees it as a threat to its interests and security.

"We see it as a threat to us. This is an action that threatens our interests, our security; moreover, this is a third nation (apart from Russia and Poland) that is increasing its military presence near our borders in Europe, and it's not even a European nation.

"One thousand or 10,000 - we're talking about the increase of military presence. There's nothing to add."

Given Trump has expressed a desire for closer ties between the US and Russia, he may seek to reverse this move.


President Obama is set to grant hundreds more commutations to nonviolent drug offenders before he leaves office - a move that could make him the first president since Jimmy Carter to leave office with a federal prison population smaller than when he was sworn in.

Justice Department officials have officially completed their review of more than 16,000 clemency positions filed by federal prisoners and sent their final recommendations to the President, the Washington Post reports.

The goal of the initiative is to see the early release of drug offenders who received long sentences under the nation's "war on drugs" in the 80s and 90s.

Justice officials worried that Trump would dismantle the move upon entering the White House, after Trump criticised the initiative during his campaign.

"Some of these people are bad dudes," he said. "And these are people who are out, they're walking the streets. Sleep tight, folks."

Neither Trump nor his Attorney-General nominee Senator Jeff Sessions have specified what policies might be implemented on drug-charging or clemency, although the latter infamously said "good people don't smoke marijuana" last year.

How the incoming administration deals with the offenders still incarcerated is yet to be seen.