President Trump exceeded his constitutional powers in reversing Obama-era prohibitions on offshore drilling in Arctic and Atlantic waters, a federal judge ruled in Alaska.
In a March 29 ruling issued in Anchorage, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason ruled that while presidents have the power to withdraw offshore areas from leasing for energy development, only Congress has the power to reopen them.
“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 wrote.
His administration approved Royal Dutch Shell’s last 2015 attempt to explore the Chukchi Sea, but weeks before leaving office Obama used his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to ban oil drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska’s north coast, declaring a need to protect wildlife and Native Alaskan communities that depend on those natural resources.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, called for Gleason’s decision to be appealed.
“I strongly disagree with this ruling, which asserts that past presidents can bind their successors and only Congress can overturn those decisions,” said Murkowski.
“That is not the correct interpretation of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and could have catastrophic impacts for offshore development, which creates jobs, generates revenues, and strengthens our national security. I expect this decision to be appealed and ultimately overturned—if not by the Ninth Circuit, then by the Supreme Court.”