ARCTIC DRILLING BAN RESTORED
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.