Story at a glance

  • In April 2017, then-President Trump issued an executive order to roll back former President Obama’s ban on fossil fuel exploration in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.
  • A coalition of conservation groups then sued the Trump administration over the executive action, and in 2019, the U.S. District court for the District of Alaska ruled in their favor saying the move was unlawful.
  • While the Trump administration appealed the ruling, President Biden on his first day in office revoked Trump’s order, rendering the court case moot.

A federal appeals court has ended the fight over former President Trump’s attempt to open oil and gas drilling in 128 million acres of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. 

In April 2017, then-President Trump issued an executive order to roll back former President Obama’s ban on fossil fuel exploration in most of the Arctic Ocean and areas of the Atlantic. 


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A coalition of conservation groups then sued the Trump administration over the executive action, and in 2019, the U.S. District court for the District of Alaska ruled in their favor saying the move was unlawful. 

While the Trump administration appealed the ruling, President Biden on his first day in office revoked Trump’s order, rendering the court case moot. 

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday agreed to dismiss the Trump administration's appeal.

'We lack jurisdiction to consider ‘moot questions...or to declare principles or rules of law which cannot affect the matter in issue in the case before [us],'' the court said Tuesday. 

“Because the terms of the challenged Executive Order are no longer in effect, the relevant areas of the [Outer Continental Shelf] in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, and Atlantic Ocean will be withdrawn from exploration and development activities,” the court said. 

The ruling was applauded by conservation groups who challenged the order. 

“We welcome today’s [Tuesday’s] decision and its confirmation of President Obama’s legacy of ocean and climate protection,” Erik Grafe, an attorney for Earthjustice who argued the case, said in a statement

“As the Biden administration considers its next steps, it should build on these foundations, end fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters, and embrace a clean energy future that does not come at the expense of wildlife and our natural heritage,” he said. 


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Published on Apr 15, 2021