One of the nice little additions to the Republican money-grab-for-billionaires tax bill last year was to open up all kinds of oil and mineral drilling of wildlife areas and untouched natural environments. Their argument was simple: losing all of that government revenue—by giving it to billionaires—meant they needed to generate money some other way … by letting billionaires profit more off of public and protected lands. Global disaster in chief Donald Trump used an executive order to overturn President Obama’s protections of around 65 million acres of the Beaufort Sea section of the Arctic Ocean from offshore drilling. This has led to a federal lawsuit arguing that Trump does not have the legal right to do this. But while that decision is working its way through the courts, the fossil fuel industry, led by Trump’s Interior Department, is moving ahead in lining up its oily ducks. According to Inside Climate News, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced last week with the issuance of a “Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, announce the area identified for leasing, and hold public scoping meetings” that it would be opening the plan for drilling up to public comments—a first logistical step in the process of destroying public waters.
The good news? There isn’t much. The environmental lawsuit against the federal government continues on, hoping to bring reason to the unreasonable and greedy.
In response, Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council sued in a federal court in Alaska on behalf of about a dozen environmental organizations. The case is far from over. Last week, a federal judge in Alaska heard oral arguments in the case. She is expected to rule in the next three to five months.
"The proposed lease sale overlaps with the area President Obama withdrew, and can only proceed if President Trump's order attempting to revoke the Obama protection is lawful," said Eric Jorgensen, managing attorney for Earthjustice's Alaska regional office.
This is not a Donald Trump thing; this is a Republican/fossil fuel thing. For years, Republicans have tried to open up pristine areas like Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and now they are close enough to taste that poisoned-air-oil-and-cash sandwich.