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'Huge Victory for Our Oceans': Trump Effort to Open Arctic to Oil and Gas Drilling Ruled Illegal

"The judge's ruling today 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."

A Shell drilling vessel drifted aground off Sitkalidak Island in the Gulf of Alaska. (Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis/U.S. Coast Guard)

Preserving over 120 million acres of federal waters from exploitation by fossil fuel giants, a federal judge ruled late Friday that President Donald Trump's effort to open the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans to oil and gas drilling is illegal.

"President Trump's lawlessness is catching up with him," said Erik Grafe, the lead attorney for Earthjustice who helped argue the case against the Trump administration. "The judge's ruling today 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."

U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason ruled (pdf) that Trump's April 2017 executive order revoking the Obama administration's ban on drilling in most of the Arctic was "unlawful."

The Trump administration is expected to appeal the decision, which applies to 98 percent of the Arctic.

As Alaska Public Media reported: "Gleason’s decision was the second one she released Friday in favor of environmental groups. In a different lawsuit, she rejected a Trump administration effort to facilitate construction of a road through a national wildlife refuge on the Alaska Peninsula."

Gleason's decisions came just over a week after the Trump administration's fossil fuel agenda also hit a roadblock in Wyoming, where a federal judge temporarily blocked fracking on 300,000 acres of public land.

"Experts in environmental law estimate that the Trump administration has now lost about 40 environmental cases in federal courts," the New York Times reported.

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