Enviros challenge legality of Trump’s Arctic order

Map of Obama Arctic withdrawal area. (Map: BOEM)

As expected, environmental groups have filed a lawsuit over an order President Trump signed last week to reverse a ban on Arctic offshore oil and gas leasing.

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Late last year, then-President Obama withdrew most of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas from the possibility of leasing, for an indefinite period of time. The law Obama used, section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, doesn’t say anything about how a president can undo a withdrawal of this kind.

Ten environmental groups claim in their suit that the protection was permanent and Trump didn’t have the authority to reverse it.

The lawsuit is filed in U.S. District Court in Anchorage.

The lawsuit does not mention a separate 12(a) withdrawal Trump reversed for the Bering Sea.

The plaintiffs are:

League of Conservation Voters

Natural Resources Defense Council

Sierra Club

Alaska Wilderness League

Defenders of Wildlife

Northern Alaska Environmental Center

Resisting Environmental Destruction On Indigenous Lands

Center for Biological Diversity


The Wilderness Society


Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Liz here.

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