US President Donald Trump signed an executive order [text] on Friday to lift restrictions placed on offshore oil drilling. According to a statement [press release], about 94 percent of the US Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) was either off-limits to or not considered for oil and gas exploration and development under previous rules. Trump blamed federal regulations for high unemployment in the state of Alaska, where oil and gas are a significant part of the economy, and said lifting restrictions would create thousands of jobs. Opponents, including US Congressman Charlie Christ (D-FL) [official website], criticized [press release] the move, citing environmental risks posed by drilling such as the Deep Water Horizon oil spill [JURIST backgrounder].
In 2016, US President Obama withdrew [JURIST op-ed] all of the northern Atlantic Ocean and most of the Arctic Ocean under federal jurisdiction from oil exploration and production through the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. In January, the Washington Supreme Court [official website] ruled [JURIST report] against plans for a big oil terminal on the West Coast. The same month, President Trump signed [JURIST report] presidential memoranda to progress construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline. In March, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] rejected an emergency request [JURIST report] from two Native American tribes attempting to stop the oil flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline.