ARC­TIC DRILLING BAN RE­STORED

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY CORAL DAVEN­PORT

A fed­eral judge has tossed out Pres­i­dent Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der re­vers­ing an Obama-era Arc­tic oil drilling ban.

In a ma­jor le­gal blow to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s push to ex­pand off­shore oil and gas de­vel­op­ment, a fed­eral judge ruled that an ex­ec­u­tive or­der by Trump that lifted an Obama-era ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arc­tic Ocean and parts of the North At­lantic coast was un­law­ful.

The de­ci­sion, by Judge Sharon L. Glea­son of U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska, con­cluded late Fri­day that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s 2015 and 2016 with­drawal from drilling of about 120 mil­lion acres of Arc­tic Ocean and about 3.8 mil­lion acres in the At­lantic “will re­main in full force and ef­fect un­less and un­til re­voked by Congress.” She wrote that an April 2017 ex­ec­u­tive or­der by Trump re­vok­ing the drilling ban “is un­law­ful, as it ex­ceeded the pres­i­dent’s au­thor­ity.”

The de­ci­sion, ex­pected to be ap­pealed in the 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals, im­me­di­ately re­in­states the drilling ban on most of the Arc­tic Ocean off the coast of Alaska, a pris­tine re­gion home to en­dan­gered species in­clud­ing polar bears and bow­head whales where oil com­pa­nies have long sought to drill. Along the At­lantic coast, it blocks drilling around a se­ries of coral canyons that run from Nor­folk, Vir­ginia, to the Cana­dian bor­der and are home to unique deep­wa­ter corals and rare fish species.

In ad­di­tion, Fri­day’s rul­ing by the judge, an Obama ap­pointee, has broader im­pli­ca­tions for Trump’s ef­fort to push drilling across the U.S. coast­line and on pub­lic lands. Specif­i­cally, the Arc­tic Ocean drilling case could give le­gal am­mu­ni­tion to opponents of Trump’s ef­forts to roll back pro­tec­tions for 2 mil­lion acres of na­tional mon­u­ments cre­ated by Obama and Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton.

Ex­perts in en­vi­ron­men­tal law es­ti­mate that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has now lost about 40 en­vi­ron­men­tal cases in fed­eral courts.

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