On March 29, 2019, Alaska Federal District Court Judge Sharon Gleason granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiff environmental groups in League of Conservation Voters v. Trump, 3:17-00101. The case stems from Executive Orders issued under the Obama Administration in 2015 and 2016 which withdrew certain areas in the Arctic and Atlantic regions from exploration and development under the offshore oil and gas leasing program. President Trump issued an Executive Order in 2017 which revoked the Obama withdrawals. The Court’s summary judgment ruling vacated certain portions of the 2017 Trump Executive Order and concluded that the prior Obama Orders would remain in place. In effect, the ruling removes the areas in the Arctic and the Atlantic covered in the Obama Orders from the five-year leasing program proposed by the Trump Administration.
The Court found that President Trump’s Executive Order exceeded the President’s authority under Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. In particular, analyzing the text of OCSLA Section 12(a), the legislative history, and the purpose of OCSLA, the Court reasoned that, while Section 12(a) allows a President to withdraw lands from oil and gas development, it does not authorize a President to revoke a prior withdrawal. Instead, such revocation remains vested with Congress.
An appeal of the ruling would be filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
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