Trump loses in court again — this time on the environment

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Trump's loss in the oil drilling case on Monday is the latest in a slew of legal defeats.

Donald Trump suffered a court loss this week that was about something other than the 2020 presidential election.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Monday ruled against the Trump administration in a suit brought by a group of environmental organizations represented by the nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice, vacating the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's approval of an oil-drilling project in federal Arctic waters.

The court said that the Trump administration had not conducted the required research into the potential environmental impact of the project correctly, ruling, "We conclude that BOEM acted arbitrarily and capriciously by failing to quantify the emissions resulting from foreign oil consumption ... as required by [the National Environmental Policy Act], or, at least, explaining thoroughly why it cannot do so and summarizing the research upon which it relied."

In 2018, the Trump administration approved Hilcorp Alaska's Liberty project, described by the Center for Biological Diversity, a plaintiff in the suit, as "an artificial drilling island and underwater pipeline that would risk oil spills in the sensitive Beaufort Sea and threaten polar bears and Arctic communities."

Kristen Monsell, a lawyer with the center, called the court's decision a "huge victory for polar bears and our climate."

"This project was a disaster waiting to happen that should never have been approved. I'm thrilled the court saw through the Trump administration's attempt to push this project through without carefully studying its risks," Monsell said.

The center also noted the court's ruling that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had violated the Endangered Species Act with its insufficient analysis of the project's potential adverse impacts on polar bears, which it placed "among the world's most vulnerable animals."

"Two-thirds of the world's polar bears could be extinct by 2050 if greenhouse gas-fueled global warming keeps melting their Arctic sea-ice habitat," the center warned.

The Alaska Oil and Gas Association, an industry group, was disappointed in the ruling. Its CEO and president, Kara Moriarty, told the Anchorage Daily News, "(The project) will have to go back to BOEM to be reworked, adding delay and uncertainty, at a time when Alaska could use as many projects on the books as possible to get us back to some type of economic recovery. ... The court remanded it back to (BOEM). It didn't say deny the project."

Trump's loss in the oil drilling case on Monday is the latest in a slew of legal defeats.

As of Tuesday, over 35 of about 50 lawsuits filed by Trump or his Republican allies to overturn his election defeat were either dropped or dismissed, according to the Associated Press. On Friday, for instance, Judge Randall Warner in Arizona and Judge James Todd Russell in Nevada ruled that there was no evidence of election fraud in their respective states.

Last Tuesday, a federal judge struck down two Trump administration immigration rules concerning the H-1B visa program for skilled workers, which would have limited the number of visas provided to them.

And in November, a federal judge ruled that the Justice Department cannot defend Trump in a personal defamation lawsuit filed by journalist E. Jean Carroll, who has accused Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.