Judge Says Trump’s Plan to Allow Drilling in Arctic Ocean Is ‘Unlawful and Invalid’
A federal judge in Alaska ruled on Friday that President Donald Trump "exceeded the president's authority" when he signed an executive order to allow offshore oil drilling in around 125 million acres of the Arctic Ocean, CNN reported.
U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason's decision restores a ban on drilling in 98 percent of the U.S.-controlled Arctic Ocean, according to Earthjustice, which sued to stop Trump's order on behalf of several environmental groups and Alaska Native communities.
The ruling "shows that the president cannot just trample on the constitution to do the bidding of his cronies in the fossil fuel industry at the expense of our oceans, wildlife and climate," Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.
VICTORY: Last night a judge struck down President Trump's Executive Order purporting to undo President Obama's perm… https://t.co/J7vnQyNwlT— Earthjustice (@Earthjustice)1553955330.0
Former president Barack Obama had instituted the ban via three memoranda and one executive order, protecting much of the Arctic Ocean and parts of the Atlantic as well. In her ruling Friday, Gleason said that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act allows the president to withdraw lands from leasing, but not to reverse a previous withdrawal. That, she said, can only be done by Congress.
"The wording of President Obama's 2015 and 2016 withdrawals indicates that he intended them to extend indefinitely, and therefore be revocable only by an act of Congress," Gleason said, according to CNN. She said the executive order allowing drilling was therefore "unlawful and invalid."
Obama had intended the bans to protect polar bears, walruses, ice seals and the Native Alaskan communities that depend on these animals. He also banned exploration in 5,937 square miles of canyons in the Atlantic to protect deep-water corals, migrating whales and other marine mammals and fish populations, the Associated Press reported.
"This victory shows that no one, not even Trump, is above the law," League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said in a statement reported by CNN. "Offshore drilling and the associated threat of devastating oil spills puts coastal economies and ways of life at risk while worsening the consequences of climate change. President Trump wanted to erase all the environmental progress we've made, but we fought back and we won."
The Trump administration, the state of Alaska and the American Petroleum Institute all defended the executive order in court.
"While we disagree with the decision, our nation still has a significant opportunity before us in the development of the next offshore leasing plan to truly embrace our nation's energy potential and ensure American consumers and businesses continue to benefit from U.S. energy leadership," an American Petroleum Institute spokesperson told CNN in a statement.
Judge Gleason's decision is likely to be appealed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
We can stop drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge! @alaskawildact @sierraclublive https://t.co/Ac9nxbmNu2— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1550080331.0
- Not Enough Ice! Arctic Drilling a 'Disaster Waiting to Happen ... ›
- Trump Administration's Alaska Oil and Gas Lease Sale a 'Major Flop ... ›
- Trump Admin Pushes Final Drilling Plan for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - EcoWatch ›
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.
- Your Guide to Talking With Kids of All Ages About Climate Change ... ›
- 7 of the Best Ted Talks About Climate Change - EcoWatch ›
- Katharine Hayhoe Reveals Surprising Ways to Talk About Climate ... ›
An extremely rare North Atlantic right whale calf was found dead off the North Carolina coast on Friday.
<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="24c36ab7f041f96875677ba1e9dc1944"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/CapeLookoutNPS/posts/3608024915884969"></div></div>
- 411 North Atlantic Right Whales Remain: This Solution Could Help ... ›
- Sixth North Atlantic Right Whale Found Dead Prompts Concern ... ›
- First North Atlantic Right Whale Calf of the Season Spotted off ... ›
By Andrea Germanos
A new report released Tuesday details the "shocking" state of global land equality, saying the problem is worse than thought, rising, and "cannot be ignored."
- We Need a Green New Deal for Farmland - EcoWatch ›
- The Netherlands Can Feed the World. Here's Why It Shouldn't ... ›
- The Key to Saving Family Farms Is in the Soil - EcoWatch ›
- Urban Farming Booms During Coronavirus Lockdowns - EcoWatch ›
In yet another attack on the environment before leaving office, the Trump administration is seeking to transfer ownership of San Carlos Apache holy ground in Oak Flat, Arizona, to a copper mining company.
- Mining Giant BHP Pauses Plans to Blast 40 Aboriginal Heritage Sites ›
- Mining Company CEO Forced to Resign After Blasting of 46,000 ... ›
- Rio Tinto Blasted Away an Ancient Aboriginal Site. Here's Why That ... ›