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Judge rules Trump's executive order to open Arctic and Atlantic waters to drilling unlawful


A federal judge on Friday ruled President Trump’s executive order seeking to revoke an Obama-era ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans as unlawful.

U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason said in a ruling that the Obama administration’s leasing withdrawals of about 120 million acres of the waters “will remain in full force and effect unless and until revoked by Congress.”

Gleason wrote that Trump’s 2017 order revoking the drilling ban “is unlawful, as it exceeded the president’s authority.”

Former President Obama issued the drilling ban in his second term by way of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), which allows presidents to instate leasing withdrawals but does not allow presidents to revoke such withdrawals without approval from Congress, according to The Washington Post.

Erik Grafe, the lead attorney from the organization Earthjustice, which argued for the previous administration’s leasing withdrawals to be reinstated in the case, said the ruling shows “President Trump’s lawlessness is catching up with him.”

“The judge’s ruling today re-affirms that we are a nation of laws and shows that the president cannot just trample on the constitution at the expense of our oceans, wildlife, and climate,” he added in a statement.

According to The Post, Friday’s ruling mark the third legal blow against the Trump administration’s energy policies this week.

Earlier on Friday, Gleason also blocked a land swap that was arranged by the Interior Department that aimed to have a road constructed through the wilderness of a National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

U.S. District Judge Lewis T. Babcock also ruled earlier this week that two gas drilling plans in Colorado that were approved by Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service were also illegal, according to the newspaper.