United States District Court for the District of Alaska judge Sharon L. Gleason decided late on Friday to reinstate the drilling ban on millions of acres in the Arctic that President Barack Obama put in place prior to the expiration of his presidential term.
Gleason, an Obama-era appointee, determined that President Trump’s decision to open up Arctic waters to oil drilling was an overreach.
“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, adding that while sitting US presidents do have the power to ban land from being developed with an executive order, they do not have the power to revoke a ban instituted by other presidents with an executive order. Only a vote by Congress can undo an existing ban, Gleason said.
The API was a defendant in the case, and disagreed with Gleason’s ruling, saying the following in a statement carried by Time. “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.”
Gleason, an Obama-appointee, hasn’t always sided with the environment. In 2012, Gleason slapped a temporary injunction against Greenpeace, ruling in favor of Shell Oil. The ruling meant that Greenpeace had to stay at least 500 meters away from Shell’s drilling ships. A couple months later, Gleason extended her temporary injunction.
President Donald Trump signed the executive order lifting the ban on Arctic offshore drilling in April 2017 in line with his campaign promises to increase American oil production and move toward a greater energy independence.
Gleason’s ruling will most likely be appealed, and may drag on for years to come.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com