President Donald Trump signed an executive order on April 28 to lift restrictions placed on offshore oil drilling by the previous administration. According to a statement, about 94% 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), criticized the move, citing environmental risks posed by drilling, especially naming the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill.
In 2016, US President Obama withdrew 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 issued a ruling against plans for a major oil terminal on the West Coast.
From Jurist, April 29. Used with permission.
Note: Trump's new order overturns Barack Obama's declaration of Arctic and Atlantic offshore waters "indefinitely off limits" under powers granted the executive by the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. There will presumably be a court battle over whether Trump now has the authority to remove these waters from protection. The January ruling by the Washington Supreme Court against the terminal project at Grays Harbor came in a case brought by the Quinault Indian Nation and four environmental groups. Numerous other such terminal projects remain pending, in both the US and Canada.