Environment

Federal judge rebukes Trump and reinstates Arctic drilling ban put in place by Obama

According to a U.S. judge’s ruling this Friday, President Trump overstepped his authority when he reversed an Obama-era ban on drilling in areas of the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, NBC News reports.

In her ruling, Judge Sharon Gleason said that Trump lacked the authority to open up the formerly protected areas for drilling.

“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.

Responding to the ruling was The American Petroleum Institute, which was a defendant in the case.

“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 organization said in a statement.

The ban was implemented by former President Barack Obama during his second term under the authority of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), which was enacted in 1953.

Trump’s attempted reopening of drilling in the areas threatened the crucial habitats of seals, walruses, bowhead whales, and polar bears, Earthjustice claims. Citing government analysis, Earthjustice says drilling operations in these areas increases the chance of an oil spill by 75 percent. Making the threat even worse, the remoteness of the areas would make a cleanup effort almost impossible.

“President Trump’s lawlessness is catching up with him,” Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe said in response to the decision. “The judge’s ruling today re-affirms that we are a nation of laws and shows that the president cannot just trample on the constitution at the expense of our oceans, wildlife, and climate.”

As The Washington Post points out, Gleason’s ruling on Friday marks the third legal defeat handed to the Trump administration this week in regards to its policies affecting the environment.

Featured image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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