Court Setback, Politics Conspire to Delay Trump’s Offshore Drilling Plans
Public opposition and a recent court ruling have forced the Trump Administration to abandon its much-touted plan to greatly expand offshore oil and natural gas drilling – at least for now.
As a Top Offshore Injury Lawyer, Ryan Zehl has successfully represented hundreds of workers following the worst maritime explosions and accidents in recent history.
Trump Executive Order Revoked Obama-Era Drilling Ban
President Trump’s “Energy First” agenda was a key component of his campaign platform. So, it was no surprise when he signed an executive order rescinding an Obama-era ban on oil and natural gas drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.
A dozen environmental groups quickly challenged the order in Alaska federal court. Their case centered on a single line in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953: “The President of the United States may, from time to time, withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the outer Continental Shelf.”
While the plaintiffs insisted the phrase only allowed the President to ban drilling in certain areas, the administration argued it gave him authority to reverse the bans as well.
Judge Rules Offshore Drilling Order Exceeded Trump’s Authority
U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason ultimately agreed Trump’s executive order was unlawful, writing in her March 29th opinion that “had Congress intended to grant the President revocation authority, it could have done so explicitly.”
The ruling reinstated all of the Obama-era protections the order had attempted to erase. The administration has promised to appeal the decision, but that’s going to take time.
“By the time the court rules, that may be discombobulating to our plan,” Interior Secretary David told The Wall Street Journal.
Public Opposition to Offshore Drilling Could Hurt Reelection Bid
Trump’s plans to expand offshore drilling have also generated pushback in coastal communities from Florida to New England, including reliable red states like Georgia and South Carolina.
According to Bloomberg News, the decision to put the plans on hold also reflects White House concerns that the controversy could cost President Trump vital votes in 2020, and even hurt some Republican lawmakers’ re-election bids.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the offshore drilling expansion is dead. In fact, it’s likely to be at the top of President Trump’s agenda should voters return him to office in 2020.
“We may have generated enough opposition to slow this down, but until the Trump plan is final, the president is positioned to open up our coasts at a moment’s notice,” Jacqueline Savitz, chief policy officer at the conservation group Oceana, told Bloomberg.
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