A US District Court judge ruled on Friday that President Donald Trump overreached his authority when he previously reversed an Obama-era ban on offshore drilling in parts of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans and the Obama restrictions are now back in place.
Judge Sharon Gleason gave her ruling late Friday and said that while presidents have a federal law authority to remove certain lands from development, they do NOT have the authority to revoke those removals. Judge Gleason’s decision saw to the tossing of Trump’s executive order to lift the Obama bans on the drilling, now restoring an important part of Obama’s environmental legacy.
“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.”Judge Sharon Gleason
While the Department of Justice has declined to comment on the matter, one defendant in the case, The American Petroleum Institute, offered a statement.
“In addition to bringing supplies of affordable energy to consumers for decades to come, developing our abundant offshore resources can provide billions in government revenue, create thousands of jobs and will also strengthen our national security.”The American Petroleum Institute
Environmental groups everywhere are reveling in the judge’s decision, including the numerous environmental groups who have sued the Trump administration over Trump’s 2017 order to reverse the drilling bans. Erik Grafe is an attorney with Earthjustice, who represents several of those environmental groups and he was pleased with the ruling and stated that it “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.”
Acting Assistant US Attorney General Jeffrey Wood previously stated that he thought the environmental groups were wrong in their understanding the intent of the original law written in 1953 and that the law is meant to be flexible as the realities of offshore drilling and potential needs change over time. He believes that presidents should not be bound by the decisions made by other presidents if they see a different need arise.
President Obama made important decisions like banning exploration and withdrawing leases in the Arctic to protect animals like the walrus, the ice seal, the polar bear, and other animals that Alaska Native villages depend on for survival. In the Atlantic, he banned the exploration of over 5k square miles to protect the underwater infrastructure there as well.