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Trump’s Offshore Drilling Order Prompts LCV’s First-Ever Legal Challenge

May 3, 2017

David Willett, 202-454-4598, david_willett@lcv.org

Washington, DC: For the first time in its history, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) today filed a legal challenge to President Trump’s executive order purporting to reverse permanent protections from off shore drilling for the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. LCV will be the lead plaintiff in the case, which is brought by a coalition of conservation and Alaska Native groups.

The challenge, filed in federal district court in Alaska, was prompted by Trump’s action exceeding his constitutional and statutory authority supposedly revoking permanent protections for virtually the entire Arctic Ocean and sensitive parts of the Atlantic, posing unacceptable risks to these waters and the people that depend on them.  The case is jointly represented by attorneys from Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Never in LCV’s history have we taken this step,” said Gene Karpinski, President of LCV. “The permanent protections President Obama established for the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans were won with years of research, lobbying and organizing. Offshore drilling and the associated threat of devastating oil spills puts coastal economies and ways of life at risk while worsening the consequences of climate change. Now, President Trump is trying to erase all the environmental progress we’ve made, and we aren’t about to go down without a fight.”

For nearly 50 years, LCV has been primarily known for holding elected officials accountable with tools like our National Environmental Scorecard—the environmental community’s gold standard for evaluating the environmental records of members of Congress—and our aggressive electoral work to elect environmental champions on both sides of the aisle and defeat polluter allies through hard-edged efforts like our signature Dirty Dozen program. But in a country where too much of our government is controlled by forces hostile to conservation and environmental safeguards, we simply cannot afford to leave any tool in the toolbox.

“By challenging Trump in court in this unprecedented way, we are signaling to Congress, the President and the people of this country our resolute and growing commitment to defending the Arctic and Atlantic permanent protections and halting the expansion of risky offshore drilling,” said Karpinski.

“To be clear, we’re not reinventing ourselves as a legal outfit. Our friends at NRDC and Earthjustice, who are representing us and other plaintiffs in this litigation, have decades of experience making sure that our hard-won environmental laws are defended and properly enforced through the courts for the benefit of communities’ health and safety, and they will continue to lead those legal fights.”

The coalition consists of League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Alaska Wilderness League, Defenders of Wildlife, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands), Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and The Wilderness Society.