Federal Court Blocks Trump’s Attempt to Re-Open Arctic Waters to Drilling

A federal judge in Alaska has ruled that President Trump does not have the authority to re-open Arctic waters to drilling that the Obama administration closed to drilling in 2016. Judge Sharon L. Gleason explained that while a 1953 law called the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) permits a president to remove waters from drilling, it does not contain a provision allowing a president to add waters to the list of available drilling sites.

If the district court’s ruling is upheld on appeal, President Trump will have to seek approval from Congress to re-open the waters at issue in this case. Congress’ current composition, with a Republican majority in the Senate and a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, makes such an approval unlikely.

Additional Reading

Judge says Trump can’t re-open Arctic waters that Obama closed to drilling, Ars Technica, March 31, 2019

Order, filed March 29, 2019 in League of Conservation Voters, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al.

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