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April 13, 2021

Ninth Circuit Court Confirms Obama-Era Protections for Arctic, Atlantic Oceans

Victory: Court agrees with motions to drop appeal of Alaska District Court win upholding Obama-era protections

Contacts

Maggie Caldwell, 347-527-6397, mcaldwell@earthjustice.org

Anchorage, AK

This morning, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to dismiss the appeal of LCV v. Trump, re-affirming a permanent moratorium on 128 million acres of ocean territory in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. Today’s order recognizes that President Obama’s ban on oil and gas leasing in these vibrant and sensitive waters will be in effect without the need for continued litigation.

Early in his administration, President Trump issued an order purporting to undo his predecessor’s permanent protection of the vast majority of the Arctic Ocean and important areas of the Atlantic from oil and gas drilling. Earthjustice, co-counseling with Natural Resources Defense Council, on behalf of 10 national and Alaska conservation groups, successfully challenged the order under claims that President Trump had exceeded his constitutional authority and violated federal law.

On his first day in office, President Biden revoked President Trump’s order, re-affirming President Obama’s protections. Earthjustice et. al jointly sought today’s dismissal along with the Biden administration.

The following is a statement from Erik Grafe, Earthjustice attorney who argued the case:

“We welcome today’s decision and its confirmation of President Obama’s legacy of ocean and climate protection. As the Biden administration considers its next steps, it should build on these foundations, end fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters, and embrace a clean energy future that does not come at the expense of wildlife and our natural heritage. One obvious place for immediate action is America’s Arctic, including the Arctic Refuge and the Western Arctic, which the previous administration sought to relegate to oil development in a series of last-minute decisions that violate bedrock environmental laws.”

In this case, Earthjustice and Natural Resources Defense Council represented Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Greenpeace USA, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society.

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.