Federal judge rules against Trump-era approval of Alaska drilling project in Nasty Decision

(FreedomBeacon.com)- Environmental groups won a huge victory in court this week, when a federal judge ruled that a huge drilling project scheduled to take place in Alaska can’t move forward.

It’s a massive blow to one of the Trump administration’s signature oil drilling project approvals.

In making her opinion this week, Sharon Gleason, a judge in the U.S. District Court of the District of Alaska, ruled that the Department of Interior didn’t adequately measure the actual impact to the environment that the drilling project could cause.

Gleason said the group at fault in the matter was the Bureau of Land Management, which conducted the original environmental assessment for the project.

Former President Donald Trump granted approval for the project, which is referred to as ConocoPhillips’ Willow project. When he took office this January, current President Joe Biden even backed the project as well.

Now, the project is up in the air, as the federal judge ruled against it going forward.

Gleason said that the decision made by the Bureau of Land Management to not include greenhouse gas emission levels in their environmental impact report was “arbitrary and capricious.”

She also said the bureau acted on its position that “ConocoPhillips had the right to extract all possible oil and gas from its leases.”

At the same time, the bureau never specified in the environmental analysis it did how animals such as polar bears could be impacted by the oil drilling project.

This project has been years in the making, and now it’s on the brink of full collapse.

In October of 2020, officials in the Trump administration finalized the plans for the Willow Project. That happened even as environmental activists were pushing back hard against the project.

The Willow Project was set to extract roughly 100,000 barrels of oil each day from the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. The agreement would’ve eventually led to ConocoPhillips producing as much as 590 million barrels over the next 30 years.

This wasn’t all a Trump administration project, though. The Biden administration also backed the project.

Back in May, the Biden administration wrote in a court filing that indigenous and environmental groups that were challenging the Willow Project in court were “cherry-picking” specific records from federal agencies. In doing so, they were claiming inaccurately that the bureau’s analysis violated current environmental laws.

Still, the groups pushed forward with a lawsuit, and they won a victory this week.

Bridget Psariano, one of the attorneys for Trustees for Alaska — a group that is representing the six plaintiffs in the lawsuit — commented to The Washington Post following the judge’s ruling that they were “just celebrating that there’s not going to be any Willow construction this winter.”

She continued:

“The project can’t move forward without a significant amount of redoing.”

She said she hoped the Biden administration would take the ruling on Wednesday as an “opportunity to actually engage in a process that complies with the law and honors the campaign promises of making science-based decisions and protecting biodiversity and taking the concerns of Indigenous populations seriously.”