President Trump’s rush to drill everywhere and anywhere hit a wall when a federal judge in Alaska ruled that the administrations revocation of a ban on energy exploration that covered more than 100 million acres of off-shore waters was illegal.
The drilling ban on coastal waters was put in place by President Barack Obama before he left office to safeguard the environment and marine life from the negative effects of fossil fuel energy exploration.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason also blocked efforts to construct a road through the National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, the Washington Post reported.
The decision comes as Friends of Animals has been fighting efforts by the administration to open the Arctic Refuge to drilling. The Refuge, which consists of more than 19 million acres of wild lands, was first set aside for protection in 1960.
This week, FoA filed testimony with the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resource Committee supporting H.R. 1146, a bill sponsored by California Congressman Jared Huffman that would repeal the provision in the federal tax measure that opened the Refuge’s 1.6 million-acre coastal plain region to energy interests.
The Refuge supports the highest density of land denning for polar bears who are already challenged by melting sea ice caused by climate change. The region is also home to Porcupine Caribou, musk oxen and is a byway for hundreds of species of migratory birds.
“Oil and gas development will increase risks to maternal denning polar bears and cause fragmentation of vital Arctic Refuge polar bear habitats,’’ FoA’s Wildlife Law Program Director Michael Harris said in testimony.
Development would also negatively impact the Porcupine Caribou herd, causing lower birth rates and threaten migrations, he said.
FoA has also filed comments with the Bureau of Land Management about its rush to approve drilling leases in the Arctic through a draft environmental impact statement which lacked sufficient analysis of the harm to polar bears and other wildlife.
For more on FoA’s efforts to protect the Arctic, click here.