Description: Challenge to executive order reversing President Obama’s withdrawal of lands in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from future oil and gas leasing.
League of Conservation Voters v. Trump
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 03/29/2019 Order Download Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment granted, defendants' and defendant-intervenors' motions for summary judgment denied, Section 5 of Executive Order 13795 vacated, and plaintiffs' additional request for injunctive relief denied. Alaska Federal Court Vacated Trump Revocation of Obama Withdrawals of Arctic and Atlantic Areas from Oil and Gas Leasing. On March 29, 2019, the federal district court for the District of Alaska vacated the portion of a 2017 executive order issued by President Trump that revoked President Obama’s prior withdrawals of certain areas of the Outer Continental Shelf in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from oil and gas leasing. The court held that President Trump’s revocation of the withdrawals exceeded presidential authority granted by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). The court said that the text of Section 12(a) of the OCSLA—which provides that the president “may, from time to time, withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the outer Continental Shelf”—did not expressly grant the power to revoke prior withdrawals. Although the court said the inclusion of “from time to time” in Section 12(a) rendered the provision ambiguous, the court concluded that the structure, legislative history, and purposes of the OCSLA indicated that Congress intended to authorize the president only to withdraw lands from leasing. The court indicated that instances of Congress deciding not to challenge “the small number of prior revocations” fell “far short of the high bar required to constitute acquiescence” to the president’s authority to revoke withdrawals, and that there was “[t]oo little information” about Congress’s inaction with respect to Section 12(a) to override the court’s interpretation. 07/18/2018 Motion for Summary Judgment Defendants filed memorandum of points and authorities in support of their motion for summary judgment and in opposition to plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. 06/08/2018 Motion for Summary Judgment Download Memorandum filed by plaintiffs in support of motion for summary judgment. 03/19/2018 Order Download Motions to dismiss denied. Alaska Federal Court Allowed Plaintiffs to Proceed with Lawsuit Challenging Reversal of Obama’s Withdrawal of Arctic Coastal Areas from Oil and Gas Leasing. The federal district court for the District of Alaska denied motions to dismiss an action challenging President Trump’s executive order reversing President Obama’s withdrawals of coastal areas in the Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas from oil and gas leasing. The court said the doctrine of sovereign immunity did not apply because the plaintiffs asserted that President Trump acted beyond the powers delegated to him by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) and under the Constitution. The court also concluded that plaintiffs did not need express congressional authorization to bring their claims under the OCSLA and the Constitution’s Property Clause and that restrictions on the declaratory relief that courts could issue against the president did not warrant dismissal of the entire action. In addition, the court found that the plaintiffs had adequately alleged standing and that OCSLA did not require that the action be brought in the D.C. Circuit. 10/02/2017 Reply Download Reply field by intervenor-defendant American Petroleum Institute in support of motion to dismiss. 10/02/2017 Reply Download Reply filed in support of federal defendants' motion to dismiss. 09/08/2017 Opposition Download Memorandum filed by plaintiffs in opposition to motions to dismiss. 09/05/2017 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss filed by defendant-intervenor State of Alaska. 07/28/2017 Answer Download Answer, defenses and affirmative defenses filed by defendant-intervenor American Petroleum Institute. 07/28/2017 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss filed by intervenor American Petroleum Institute. 06/30/2017 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss filed by federal defendants. Trump Administration and Trade Group Sought Dismissal of Lawsuit Challenging Revocation of President Obama’s Withdrawal of Atlantic and Arctic Ocean Areas from Oil and Gas Leasing. Federal defendants and the American Petroleum Institute (API) moved to dismiss an action in Alaska federal court challenging President Trump’s authority to issue the executive order of April 28, 2017 on “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” that reversed President Obama’s withdrawal of lands in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from future oil and gas leasing. The federal defendants argued that the plaintiffs had not identified a private right of action or waiver of sovereign immunity and that separation of powers principles barred the relief sought. The federal defendants also said the plaintiffs’ claims were unripe and that the plaintiffs lacked standing. API adopted and incorporated by reference the federal defendants’ arguments and also argued that the judicial review was not yet available under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) and would not in any event be available in the District of Alaska. 05/03/2017 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Environmental Groups Challenged President Trump’s Reversal of Prohibition on Future Oil and Gas Leases in Arctic and Atlantic Ocean Areas. Ten environmental groups filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the District of Alaska challenging the portions of President Trump’s executive order of April 28, 2017 on “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” that purported to eliminate protections for lands in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. President Obama withdrew the lands from future oil and gas leasing in January 2015 and December 2016 pursuant to presidential authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). The complaint noted that in withdrawing the lands, President Obama and the White House had cited a number of factors supporting the withdrawal, including the need to make a transition from fossil fuels to address climate change, stresses to Arctic species resulting from climate change, and the contribution of withdrawn Atlantic Ocean canyons to climate stability as well as threats to the canyons from climate change. In their complaint, the environmental groups asserted that President Trump’s executive order exceeded his constitutional authority and intruded on congressional authority under the Property Clause of the Constitution in violation of the separation of powers doctrine. They also asserted that his actions exceeded authority granted by OCSLA, which they argued did not authorize presidents to re-open lands for disposition once they had been withdrawn.