Judge Rules Trump Can't Reverse Obama-Era Off-Shore Drilling Ban

Barack Obama banned new leases for offshore drilling. But according to a federal judge, only Congress can reverse it.
Posted at 10:35 AM, Mar 31, 2019

President Trump's 2017 executive order reversing an Obama-era off-shore drilling ban was ruled "unlawful and invalid" on Friday.

Toward the end of his presidency, Barack Obama used a little-known provision in the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to ban new leases for offshore drilling in federally owned parts of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

Interior officials estimate that land contains 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered gas.

Plaintiffs in this case argued the law doesn't allow a president to undo a past president's decision, and that only Congress can. The federal judge agreed, saying Obama's ban will remain in effect unless Congress revokes it.

The government will likely appeal the decision, and a spokeswoman for an industry trade group told The Washington Post she expects the judge's decision isn't final. She said, "Anything done by administrative action can be undone by administrative action."