A proposal to expand offshore oil and natural gas drilling has been tabled indefinitely, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt reportedly said on Thursday.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Bernhardt said the administration is grappling with a district court decision last month that would block expanded drilling in Arctic and Atlantic waters.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason of the District of Alaska said the administration exceeded its authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) when Trump issued an executive order in April 2017 as part of his "energy dominance" agenda in her ruling regarding League of Conservation Voters et al v. Trump et al, No. 3:17-cv-101.
The ruling may force Interior to pause on making a final decision to expand leasing areas offshore because of an expected lengthy appeals process, Bernhardt said.
“By the time the court rules, that may be discombobulating to our plan,” Bernhardt told the Journal. “What if you guess wrong?” he asked rhetorically regarding the questions in an appeals process. “I’m not sure that’s a very satisfactory and responsible use of resources.”
Conservation groups heralded the comments by Bernhardt, with Earthjustice, League of Conservation Voters and the Natural Resources Defense Council calling the news a “breath of fresh air -- and some hope for clean water -- for coastal communities who rely on a healthy and vibrant coast. We’ll continue to oppose any attempts to expand reckless offshore drilling.”