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News > U.S.

Judge Blocks Trump's Attempt to Lease Atlantic for Resources

  • U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., March 29, 2019.

    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., March 29, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 March 2019
Opinion

Gleason blocked Trump’s attempt to open some 128 million acres of the Atlantic Ocean to energy exploration.

President Donald Trump’s attempt to open the Arctic and Atlantic oceans to oil and gas leasing, has been blocked by a federal judge in Alaska Reuters reported Saturday.

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Alaska U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason ruled Friday that Trump’s decision to open some 128 million acres of the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea and a large swath of Atlantic Ocean off the U.S. East Coast off-limits to energy exploration is unlawful and a violation of the federal Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

Per the Lands Act, introduced during former President Barack Obama’s administration, presidents have the power under that law to withdraw areas from the national oil and gas leasing program, but only Congress has the power to add areas to the leasing program, she said.

The Obama-imposed leasing prohibitions “will remain in full force and effect unless and until revoked by Congress,” Gleason said in her ruling.

Trump’s move to put offshore Arctic and Atlantic areas back into play for oil development came in a 2017 executive order that was part of his “energy dominance” agenda. The order was among a series of actions that jettisoned Obama administration environmental and climate-change initiatives.

Leading attorney for the environmental law organization Earthjustice, Erik Grafe, said, “President Trump’s lawlessness is catching up with him. The judge’s ruling today shows that the president can not 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.”

As the ruling only protects some 98 percent of the Arctic Ocean’s undersea canyons in the Atlantic, industry officials say they plan to forge ahead with offshore drilling.

Vice president of the American Petroleum Institute, Erik Milito, said, “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.”

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