Trump Admin puts some offshore drilling plans on hold after court ruling

An offshore oil drilling rig.

Enlarge / Shell has halted
the controversial oil drilling in the Chukchi Sea, citing the
marginal discovery of oil was “not enough to continue the search
for the foreseeable” future. In a statement on September 28, the
company said, “Shell will now cease further exploration activity in
offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future.” (credit: Photo by
Orjan F. Ellingvag/Corbis via Getty Images)

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week, the
Department of the Interior’s new Secretary, David Bernhardt, said
that the Trump Administration would indefinitely suspend its plans
to expand offshore oil drilling in the Arctic and several areas in
the Atlantic ocean. The Secretary did not appear to comment on
whether the Administration would move forward with offshore
drilling in areas outside of those regions.

The decision not to pursue lease sales in the Arctic and some
areas of the Atlantic is a significant one for the Interior
Department (DOI) and the Trump Administration, which promised to
roll back drilling moratoriums that the Obama Administration had
imposed.

The plan to open up Arctic and Atlantic waters to offshore oil
drilling hit a snag in late March,
when a federal judge in Alaska ruled
that the Trump
Administration could not open up federal waters to oil and gas
extraction after the Obama Administration closed those waters. The
Obama Administration relied on a 1953 law called the “Outer
Continental Shelf Lands Act” (OCSLA) to close the waters to
drilling. That law allows sitting presidents to close waters, but
it says nothing about the president’s power to re-open waters.
Originally, Congress opened the federal waters in question to lease
sales, so the thought is that Congressional approval would be
required again to reverse former President Obama’s closures.

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Trump Admin puts some offshore drilling plans on hold after court ruling