A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the Interior Department botched an environmental analysis underpinning the 2008 sale of oil-drilling leases in Arctic waters off Alaska’s coast.
The decision, from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, about the sale of leases in the Chukchi Sea arrives as Royal Dutch Shell is weighing resumption of attempts to drill for oil in the region.
Bloomberg unwraps the divided decision here, noting it could delay drilling efforts by companies including Shell and ConocoPhillips that bought leases in the contested 2008 sale.
The court found that Interior wrongly based its environmental analysis on an estimate of 1 billion barrels of recoverable oil from the Chukchi leases, a figure green groups that sued the department called too low.
“[W]e agree with plaintiffs that the agency’s estimate of one billion barrels was chosen arbitrarily, and that this arbitrary decision meant that the agency based its decision on inadequate information about the amount of oil to be produced pursuant to the lease sale,” the decision states.
Shell, which is mulling another stab at drilling off the U.S. coast in the Arctic after a series of mishaps in 2012, told the Associated Press that it’s reviewing the decision.
Environmental groups cheered the ruling and quickly sought to use it as political ammunition in their campaign against Arctic drilling, which they contend is too risky.
“This decision gives the White House a chance to reconsider drilling in the Chukchi,” said National Audubon Society CEO David Yarnold, whose group is among the organizations that brought the case against Interior.
Environmentalists have urged Interior to reject Shell’s efforts to drill its existing leases in the region. They’re also calling on the Obama administration to back off plans to sell new leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska’s coast in 2016 and 2017.
What We're Following See More »
As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."