Federal Judge Throws Out Key Donald Trump Rule

(RoyalPatriot.com )- As fuel prices rise and the Biden administration is resorting to begging OPEC to increase production, US energy independence took another massive hit last week when a federal judge tossed out the Trump administration’s approval of a planned oil project on Alaska’s North Slope.

US District Court Judge Sharon Gleason vacated permits for ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project in the National Petroleum Reserve saying the federal review was flawed and didn’t include mitigation measures for polar bears.

The Willow Project was approved by the Trump administration in the fall of 2020 and conservation groups and Sovereign Inupiat for a Living Arctic challenged the adequacy of the review process.

Then Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed off on the Willow Project in October. The project called for ConocoPhillips to establish up to three drill sites, along with processing facilities and gravel roads and pipelines on the North Slope. ConocoPhillips also proposed two additional drill sites, roads and pipelines which, the Interior Department said at the time, could be considered at a later date.

Former Secretary Bernhardt said that authorizing this project would make a “significant contribution to keeping oil flowing” through the trans-Alaska pipeline system “decades into the future.”

It was projected by the Bureau of Land Management that the Willow Project could produce as much as 160,000 barrels of oil a day, and over thirty years could yield a total of 590 million barrels of oil.

Additionally, the project was expected to provide one thousand jobs during peak construction and over 400 jobs once operational.

But Judge Gleason wasn’t moved. She said in her 110-page ruling that the Bureau of Land Management’s exclusion of foreign greenhouse gas emissions in its environmental review was “arbitrary and capricious.” She also ruled that the agency acted contrary to the law when it developed its “alternatives analysis” based on the pretext that ConocoPhillips “has the right to extract all possible oil and gas on its leases.”

Judge Gleason also voided a report from US Fish and Wildlife Service which she said lacked specifics around mitigation measures for polar bears. Gleason said their conclusion that the project “was not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of polar bears and not likely to result in the adverse modification of polar bear critical habitat,” was not enough.

And since she felt that report was insufficient, the Bureau of Land Management’s reliance on that report was also flawed.

Gleason is sending the case back to the relevant agencies for further action.

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, calling Gleason’s decision “horrible,” said in a statement that this federal judge attempting to “shelve a major oil project” on US soil does only one thing: “outsources production to dictatorships and terrorist organizations.”