This week, Obama’s drilling agenda scored a win against Trump’s efforts to revitalize offshore drilling.
In 2015, Obama stopped exploration in areas important to the walrus, in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas and the Hanna shoal. The next year, he withdrew nearly all of the potential Arctic Ocean lease areas.
Obama’s order was meant to protect polar bears, walruses, ice seals and Alaskan natives who depend on the wildlife.
U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason threw out Trump’s executive order that overturned key bans from the Obama administration.
According to Gleason’s decision, Presidents have the power to remove certain lands from development, but future Presidents do not have the power to revoke removals from their predecessors.
“The wording of President Obama’s 2015 and 2016 withdrawals indicates that he intended them to extend indefinitely,” said Gleason, “and therefore be revocable only by an act of Congress.”
Erik Grafe, an attorney with Earthjustice, which represented other environmental groups that sued the Trump administration over his executive order from early 2017, said the ruling showed “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.”
While U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Wood said that environmental groups were misinterpreting a law written in 1953, the court ultimately sided with the groups represented by Earthjustice.