Tuesday April 23, 2019
Home Lead Story Judge Overtur...

Judge Overturns Trump’s Attempt to Open Vast Areas of Arctic, Atlantic to Oil and Gas Leasing

The Obama-imposed leasing prohibitions will remain in effect unless and until revoked by Congress, Gleason said in her ruling

0
//
judge, oil, arctic, atlantic
Chukchi Sea, between U.S. and Russia. VOA

A federal judge in Alaska has overturned U.S. President Donald Trump’s attempt to open vast areas of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans to oil and gas leasing.

The decision issued late Friday by U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason leaves intact President Barack Obama’s policies putting the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea, part of the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea and a large swath of the Atlantic Ocean off the U.S. East Coast off-limits to oil leasing.

Trump’s attempt to undo Obama’s protections was unlawful and a violation of the federal Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Gleason ruled. Presidents have the power under that law to withdraw areas from the national oil and gas leasing program, as Obama did, but only Congress has the power to add areas to the leasing program, she said.

oil, arctic, atlantic, judge
Trump’s attempt to undo Obama’s protections was unlawful and a violation of the federal Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Gleason ruled. VOA

The Obama-imposed leasing prohibitions will remain in effect unless and until revoked by Congress, Gleason said in her ruling.

Trump’s move to put offshore Arctic and Atlantic areas back into play for oil development came in a 2017 executive order that was part of his energy dominance agenda. The order was among a series of actions that jettisoned Obama administration environmental and climate-change initiatives.

Expanded program

The Trump administration has proposed a vastly expanded offshore oil leasing program to start this year. The five-year Trump leasing program would offer two lease sales a year in Arctic waters and at least two lease sales a year in the Atlantic. The Trump plan also calls for several lease sales in remote marine areas off Alaska, like the southern Bering Sea, that are considered to hold negligible potential for oil.

Obama had pulled much of the Arctic off the auction block following a troubled offshore Arctic exploration program pursued by Royal Dutch Shell. Shell spent at least $7 billion trying to explore the Chukchi and part of the Beaufort. The company wrecked one of its drill ships in a grounding and completed only one well to depth. It abandoned the program in 2015 and relinquished its leases.

judge, arctic, atlantic, oil
FILE – The lagoon complex is seen in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, located in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, in this U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service picture taken Aug. 24, 2010. VOA
Gleason, in a separate case, delivered another decision Friday that blocked the Trump administration’s effort to overturn an Obama-era environmental decision.
Gleason struck down a land trade intended to clear the way for a road to be built though sensitive wetlands in Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The Obama administration, after a four-year environmental impact statement process, determined that the land trade and road would cause too much harm to the refuge to be justified.

ALSO READ: Ebola Treatment Center in Congo Resumes Operations after Attack

Trump’s then-interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, broke the law when he summarily reversed the Obama policy without addressing the facts found in the previous administration’s study of the issue, Gleason ruled. (VOA)

Next Story

Trump Administration End Sanctions Waivers for those Importing Iranian Oil

Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran last year after he abandoned the 2015 international agreement that gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for it limiting its nuclear activity

0
iranian oil, waivers
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during the United Against Nuclear Iran Summit on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Sept. 25, 2018. VOA

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to announce Monday the Trump administration is ending sanctions waivers for those importing Iranian oil.

President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran last year after he abandoned the 2015 international agreement that gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for it limiting its nuclear activity.

The sanctions are meant to pressure Tehran to change what the administration calls Iran’s “malign activities,” including its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Houthi rebels in Yemen.

iranian oil, waivers
Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran last year after he abandoned the 2015 international agreement that gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for it limiting its nuclear activity. VOA

The United States issued eight waivers when it brought back the sanctions in November, temporarily exempting most of the biggest buyers of Iranian oil. Those included China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece.

Since the sanctions were reintroduced, Italy, Greece and Taiwan have halted their Iranian oil imports.

It was not clear ahead of the announcement if the other countries would be required to end Iranian imports when the waivers expire May 2, or if they will be given more time to wind down their purchases before penalties take effect.

iranian oil, waivers
Since the sanctions were reintroduced, Italy, Greece and Taiwan have halted their Iranian oil imports. VOA

ALSO READ: Earth Day 2019 Mark the Year to “Protect Our Species”

While the United States has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, Iran and the other signatories — Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany — have said they remain committed to carrying out the agreement.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is in charge of monitoring Iran’s compliance with terms such as limiting the number of centrifuges in operation at its nuclear facilities and abiding by caps on its stock of enriched uranium, and in multiple reports the IAEA says Iran is abiding by the deal. (VOA)