President Donald Trump exceeded his authority when he reversed bans on offshore drilling in vast parts of the Arctic Ocean and dozens of canyons in the Atlantic Ocean, a US judge said in a ruling that restored the Obama-era restrictions, the AP reports. Judge Sharon Gleason in a decision late Friday threw out Trump's executive order that overturned the bans that comprised a key part of Obama's environmental legacy. Presidents have the power under a federal law to remove certain lands from development but cannot revoke those removals, Gleason said. "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," says Gleason, who was nominated to the bench by Obama.
The American Petroleum Institute, a defendant in the case, disagreed with the ruling. "In addition to bringing supplies of affordable energy to consumers for decades to come, developing our abundant offshore resources can provide billions in government revenue, create thousands of jobs and will also strengthen our national security," it says in a statement. Eric Grafe, an attorney with Earthjustice, welcomed the ruling, saying it "shows that the president cannot just trample on the Constitution to do the bidding of his cronies in the fossil fuel industry at the expense of our oceans, wildlife and climate." Earthjustice represented numerous environmental groups that sued the Trump administration over the April 2017 executive order reversing the drilling bans.
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