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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.
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.
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Nestlé cannot claim that its Ice Mountain bottled water brand is an essential public service, according to Michigan's second highest court, which delivered a legal blow to the food and beverage giant in a unanimous decision.
A number of supermarkets across the country have voluntarily issued a recall on sushi, salads and spring rolls distributed by Fuji Food Products due to a possible listeria contamination, as CBS News reported.
If you read a lot of news about the climate crisis, you probably have encountered lots of numbers: We can save hundreds of millions of people from poverty by 2050 by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but policies currently in place put us on track for a more than three degree increase; sea levels could rise three feet by 2100 if emissions aren't reduced.
Poverty and violence in Central America are major factors driving migration to the United States. But there's another force that's often overlooked: climate change.
Retired Lt. Cmdr. Oliver Leighton Barrett is with the Center for Climate and Security. He says that in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, crime and poor economic conditions have long led to instability.
"And when you combine that with protracted drought," he says, "it's just a stressor that makes everything worse."
Barrett says that with crops failing, many people have fled their homes.
"These folks are leaving not because they're opportunists," he says, "but because they are in survival mode. You have people that are legitimate refugees."
So Barrett supports allocating foreign aid to programs that help people in drought-ridden areas adapt to climate change.
"There are nonprofits that are operating in those countries that have great ideas in terms of teaching farmers to use the land better, to harvest water better, to use different variety of crops that are more resilient to drought conditions," he says. "Those are the kinds of programs I think are needed."
So he says the best way to reduce the number of climate change migrants is to help people thrive in their home countries.
Reporting credit: Deborah Jian Lee / ChavoBart Digital Media.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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