GettyImages-Trump April 26
President Donald Trump stops to speak to reporters as he prepared to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on January 19, 2019, in Washington, DC. Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images

The Trump administration has shelved its controversial plan to expand oil and gas drilling in much of America's shoreline including Alaska under its ‘energy dominance’ agenda.

The rethink follows a court order rejecting an Executive order of President Donald Trump in this regard.

A report by The Wall Street Journal Thursday quoted Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on the administration’s plans to pause the drilling plan.

Bernhardt revealed that the court’s decision blocking drilling has forced the agency to call off plans to explore energy in 90 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf over the next five years.

In March, Judge Sharon Gleason for the District Court of Alaska ruled that President Donald Trump’s executive order 2017 was null and void.

Bernhardt said the court ruling could trigger prolonged appeals process and obstruct the Interior Department’s decision on auctioning offshore areas for drilling. He also acknowledged that opposition from states also mattered.

Bid to bypass Obama’s ban order on drilling

The executive order had sought to overturn curbs imposed by President Barack Obama on drilling in the canyons of Atlantic and parts of the Arctic.

Obama’s ban was to protect polar bears, ice seals, walruses, and the natives of Alaska villages who depend on these animals.

Interior spokesperson Molly Block added that in the wake of the recent court decision, “the Department is evaluating all its options to determine the best pathway to accomplish the mission entrusted to it by the President.”

The expanded oil drilling plan of Trump was strongly opposed by environmental groups. They hailed Bernhardt's announcement as a victory and noted it was also resisted by a bipartisan coalition of state officials.

Many states are opposed to the expansion of fossil fuels fearing it will exacerbate climate change and inflict more damage to coastal communities depending on tourism and marine resources.

Trump’s much-hyped economic plan

The Trump administration had been hyping the expanded offshore drilling as a key economic strategy to make the U.S. energy secure and revitalize the manufacturing sector and expand the job sector.

The proposal, unveiled in January 2018 envisaged a planned leasing activity from 2019 to 2024 covering 47 potential lease sales in 25 planned areas.

The break up includes 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, nine in the Atlantic and seven in the Pacific region.

Erik Grafe, an attorney with Earthjustice which sued the Trump administration over the matter called it “welcome news.”

The attorney said it was a reminder that the U.S is a nation of laws and the Trump administration is not above law.

“There should not be expanded oil and gas leasing in our oceans,” he said.

Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of National Wildlife Federation also hailed the decision of Trump administration and called for its permanent scrapping.

“Given the recent court decision, the Administration is right to set aside its plan, but it needs to go one step further and fully and permanently scrap its plan to open our coasts to unfettered offshore drilling,” his statement noted.

The new decision to shelve oil drilling in Alaska and other areas would mean Obama’s indefinite ban will stay until Congress revokes it. That is unlikely to happen in the near future as Democrats are in control of the House.