WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s proposal to vastly expand offshore oil and gas drilling has been sidelined indefinitely as the Interior Department grapples with a recent court decision that blocks Arctic drilling, according to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
The ruling by a federal judge in Alaska last month may force Interior Department officials to wait until the case goes through potentially lengthy appeals before they can make a final decision on what offshore areas to open up for the oil and gas industry, Bernhardt said.
“By the time the court rules, that may be discombobulating to our plan,” Bernhardt told The Wall Street Journal in his first interview since his confirmation as interior secretary April 11. Bernhardt didn’t speculate on the length of the delay, but highlighted the court case in Alaska and said the appeals process is “going to take awhile.”
“What I can definitely say is, I’m not at a point now where it’s an imminent thing,” he added. In the ruling last month, a federal judge said that an Obama-era ban on drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska must remain in place unless Congress passes legislation to end it.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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