ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Less than a week after President Donald Trump took steps to put U.S. Arctic and Atlantic waters back in play for offshore drilling, 10 environmental and Alaska Native groups sued Wednesday to maintain the ban on oil and gas exploration.
The ban was a key part of former President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy, aimed at protecting polar bears, walrus, ice seals and Native villages that depend on them from industrialization and oil spills. Waters of the Atlantic continental shelf also support whales, swordfish, bluefin tuna, sea turtles and businesses heavily dependent on the health of the ocean ecosystem, according to the lawsuit.
In an executive order Friday, Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review the withdrawal with the goal of expanded drilling.
The federal lawsuit filed in Anchorage claims Trump exceeded his constitutional authority and violated federal law. No president before Trump has tried to undo or reverse a permanent halt to drilling in outer continental shelf areas, said Kristen Monsell, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.