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Trump administration sidelines offshore drilling plan: WSJ

Kitco News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration’s plans to expand offshore drilling are on hold after a March court ruling blocked drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told the Wall Street Journal.

The newly-confirmed secretary said the agency’s five-year plan for oil and gas drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf would be sidelined indefinitely as it waits for the case to go through the appeals process.

“By the time the court rules, that may be discombobulating to our plan,” Bernhardt told the Wall Street Journal.

A federal judge in Alaska on March 30 ruled that President Donald Trump’s 2017 order to revoke the Obama administration’s ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans was illegal.

Judge Sharon Gleason said that a president could remove certain areas of federal land and waters from development but could not reverse such bans.

As the Trump administration appeals the ruling, Bernhardt said it would not release its offshore drilling plans, which Interior and Bureau of Ocean Management officials have said was to be released in the near future.

“I’m not sure that’s a very satisfactory and responsible use of resources,” he said.

Interior Department spokeswoman Molly Block said, “the secretary was expressing his view that he’s grappling with the situation. There’s no further information to share at this time.”

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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