Shared from the 5/4/2017 Philadelphia Inquirer - Philly Edition eEdition

Groups sue over drill plan

They say Trump violates authority.

A coalition of environmental groups on Wednesday sued the Trump administration over its efforts to expand offshore drilling, arguing that the move violates the president’s legal authority, threatens a multitude of wildlife and could harm the fishing and tourism industries.

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Alaska, comes days after President Trump signed an executive order aimed at jump-starting offshore drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, as well as to assess whether energy exploration can take place in marine sanctuaries in the Pacific and Atlantic. The policy could open millions of acres of federal waters for oil and gas leasing, just months after President Barack Obama withdrew the areas from possible development.

At a signing on Friday in the Roosevelt Room, Trump emphasized that the United States has abundant offshore oil and gas reserves and made clear his intention to tap them if possible. “We’re opening it up,” he said.

Wednesday’s lawsuit argues that Trump’s executive order exceeds his constitutional and statutory authority. It notes that Obama used his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Acts to permanently end drilling in much of the Arctic and key parts of the Atlantic, but argues that no president has ever undone or reversed such a decision and that the law “does not authorize the president to reopen withdrawn areas.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

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