The Trump administration has reportedly decided to put on hold its plan to expand offshore oil and gas drilling indefinitely following a legal setback last month.
In an interview, US Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that the five-year plan to open its Outer Continental Shelf for drilling will wait until all legal appeals process are cleared.
The decision was taken after a US court in Alaska revoked a federal order that allowed offshore oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean and Atlantic.
Bernhardt was quoted by the WSJ as saying: “By the time the court rules, that may be discombobulating to our plan.
“What if you guess wrong? I’m not sure that’s a very satisfactory and responsible use of resources.”
Earlier, US President Donald Trump issued an order reversing a decision taken by the previous Obama-led administration that banned oil and gas drilling in the Artic region. Several environmental groups approached the federal court to stop the move, citing environmental threats.
US District Court Judge Sharon Gleason ruled in favour of the environmental groups and said that the president cannot overturn such blanket bans. The Trump administration has already appealed against the ruling at higher court.
Six US states have already passed new laws to restrict offshore drilling since last year. Earlier in April, Georgia passed a legislation opposing offshore drilling.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported citing an e-mail from Interior Department spokeswoman Molly Block as saying: “The secretary was expressing his view that he’s grappling with the situation. There’s no further information to share at this time.”