On 31 March, a Federal judge in Alaska ruled that the Executive Order issued by President Trump in April 2017 that would have opened previously closed waters in the Arctic and Atlantic Coast to oil and gas drilling is unlawful.
President Obama put restrictions in place in 2015 and 2016 that banned Arctic drilling in roughly 125 million acres of the Arctic coastal shelf in Alaska. The new ruling affirms that President Trump’s Executive Order overstepped his authority, and that under Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, only Congress has the authority to reverse prior withdrawals. The ruling does not affect existing oil and gas leases in the Beaufort Sea. The ruling is expected to be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.