A district court judge recently blocked the Trump administration from approving oil leases off the coast of Alaska. The decision is terrible news for American workers, who will lose out on thousands of jobs if the ruling stands.
Fortunately, the judge’s opinion contains more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese. The administration would be wise to finalize its offshore drilling plans. That way, officials will be ready to greenlight leases and permits as soon as higher courts overturn the judge’s flawed ruling.
The ruling, which Judge Sharon Gleason issued in late March, comes in response to President Trump’s 2017 executive order that overturned the Obama administration’s
offshore energy policy.
President Obama had prohibited drilling in a majority of America’s Outer Continental Shelf, the submerged land off U.S. coastlines. In an unprecedented, legally questionable move, he declared some of this land permanently off-limits to oil and natural gas exploration. Altogether, his administration refused to allow drilling in 94 percent of federal offshore territories.
Soon after President Trump took office, he signed three executive orders to allow energy exploration off the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf Coast, and Alaskan shorelines. His administration will soon announce a detailed five-year offshore energy plan to expand on those orders.
Judge Gleason argues that President Trump doesn’t have the authority to overturn his predecessor’s permanent drilling ban. Her interpretation of a 1953 law is dubious. The law states “the President of the United States may, from time to time, withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the outer Continental Shelf.”