A Federal Judge Has Reversed Trump’s Offshore Drilling Executive Order

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement BSEE / Public Domain

This is a major blow to the administration's push for offshore development of oil and gas resources.

According to The Washington Post, a federal judge declared on Friday that Trump’s order, which revoked a ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, is illegal.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason’s decision marks Trump's third legal setback this week to his energy and environmental policies. On Friday, Gleason also blocked a land swap arranged by the Interior Department that would allow for the construction of a road through a major National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Earlier in the week, U.S. District Judge Lewis T. Babcock ruled that the approval of two gas drilling plants in Colorado by the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service was illegal. Babcock said that wildlife and climate impacts were not adequately analyzed.

Trump’s environmental policies have been set back in federal courts nearly two dozen times, mainly on procedural grounds. Although the administration is appealing the decisions, the rulings have certainly slowed the expansion of fossil fuel production in the U.S.

“President Trump’s lawlessness is catching up with him,” Erik Grafe, the lead attorney from the environmental law organization Earthjustice said Saturday. “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.”

However, the administration is allowed to continue offshore drilling as the litigation continues.

“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,” said Erik Milito, vice president of upstream and industry operations for the American Petroleum Institute.

On Friday, Gleason wrote that the law which gives the president authority over offshore drilling allows for leasing withdrawals but doesn’t say that a subsequent president can revoke those withdrawals without approval from congress.

“As a result, the previous three withdrawals issued on January 27, 2015 and December 20, 2016 will remain in full force and effect unless and until revoked by Congress,” she wrote.