Saturday December 14, 2019
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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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Arctic Blast Spreads Shivers from Maine to Deep South

The wintry weather proved deadly in southwestern Michigan, where a man died Tuesday after getting trapped beneath machinery while clearing snow

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Pedestrians brave frigid sub-zero temperatures. VOA

An arctic blast that caused record-setting cold in the Midwest is now spreading shivers across the eastern U.S.

The wintry weather proved deadly in southwestern Michigan, where a man died Tuesday after getting trapped beneath machinery while clearing snow.

Temperatures dipped to single digits early Wednesday across parts of the Northeast on the heels of an early-season snowstorm. Forecasters projected even lower temperatures for late Wednesday and early Thursday in some locations.

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An arctic blast that caused record-setting cold in the Midwest is now spreading shivers across the eastern U.S. Pixabay

National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Bloomer in Caribou, Maine, said the frigid air mass is creating mid-winter conditions.

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Record low temperatures for the date were recorded Tuesday around New York City; Buffalo, New York; Burlington, Vermont; and parts of Ohio. More daily records were broken Wednesday morning in Burlington, parts of Pennsylvania, and as far south as Alabama and Mississippi. (VOA)