One-two punch: Judge blocks King Cove Road and Outer Continental Shelf


A federal judge in Anchorage on Friday issued two rulings that will disappoint many Alaskans but bring joy to litigating environmentalists:

District Court Judge Sharon Gleason ruled against the King Cove Road to the Cold Bay Airport, and later in the day said that offshore drilling in Alaska’s Arctic is also off the table.

Both rulings preserve actions of the Obama Administration that the Trump Administration was attempting to reverse.

Gleason, who was appointed her judgeship by President Obama in 2011, said that former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was arbitrary and capricious in his decision to allow a road through a national wildlife refuge. The community of King Cove has fought for a road for years to the nearby all-weather airport; over 100 medevacs have taken place in King Cove since 2014 due to not having road access to the airport.

[Read: Superior Court ruling against King Cove]

Gleason ruled that the land swap of Izembek National Wildlife Refuge land and private Native Corporation land was illegal.

[Read: King Cove land swap is a ‘go’]

Late Friday, Gleason again ruled against the Trump Administration. She wrote that President Trump overstepped his authority when he rescinded orders by former President Obama to withdraw nearly all of the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf from drilling.

Earthjustice had brought the lawsuit on behalf of a group of environmental organizations and Alaska Native interests.

Gleason wrote the president doesn’t have the authority to revoke another president’s withdrawal of the Outer Continental Shelf from leases.

Read: 80-Order-granting-MSJ-1

The two adverse decisions by a U.S. District Court judge will almost certainly be appealed by the Trump Administration.


  1. So arbitrary and capricious in closing the OCS and denying Izembek road ok, but reversing those decisions by the same technique is bad. Got it. Good to know. Not. Cheers –

  2. We are very fortunate that our “founding fathers” separated the power of government into 3 branches…
    In our current political climate where business interest “Trumps” science and research it is refreshing to know that the protections written into our Constitution can prevent further harm to our natural environment.

    • Yeah!!! “Drill Baby Drill!! More oil and gas….Let’s hope this gal feeds her dog team every day or she will go no where. Does she use that camera and computer? Ohhhhh! oil products…..”Drill Baby Drill”!!!! The founding Fathers were business people and wanted the business in the thirteen colonies. Now its the “50” and going strong. Separation of powers? Judges can be fired and hired. From the US Supreme Court to our lowly magistrates office. So can this one be replaced.

  3. Is anyone really surprised by the obama appointed judge’s ruling? I’m not. A wingnut is a wingnut is a wingnut. We, especially in Alaska, will be feeling repercussions from the obama presidency for quite a while, I suspect. He did, and is still doing everything he can to “fundamentally change America”. Alaska is just the most unrepresented state in the Union, so the wingnuts think they have “open season” on Alaskans. The dims/wingnuts do not care about Alaska or Alaskans. They simply want the same thing as hussein. A fundamentally changed America. I am sick and tired of the non-stop attempts to ruin Alaska. Probably the most economically sustainable state, Alaska will soon become a more major battleground than it is now. The citizens of Alaska need to be more aware than ever before. Attempts are constantly being made to “remake” Alaska into a wingnut/liberal paradise. We must stand up to them and defeat them!!!!!!

  4. All the more reason to support Gov Dunleavy, refusing to accept the judge candidates he’s been offered.

  5. Y’all have some short memories. Here are just two examples of Judge Gleason rulings that had conservatives polishing plaques for her:
    – In 2012 and 2015, she issued an orders stopping Greenpeace from interfering with the movement of Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs. In 2015, she imposed fines of $2500 an hour against Greenpeace for violating her order and gave them 15 minutes to get out of Shell’s way before the bill started to run.
    – She’s the judge who found BLM and DOJ acted in bad faith in the State’s Mosquito Fork litigation and rang the Feds up to pay the State $600K in attorney fees. That kind of ruling is hard to come by and easy for a judge to sidestep if they are looking for a pre-ordained ideological result as y’all seem to think Judge Gleason did in the two recent decisions.

    If you’re looking to villainize judges, you can cherry pick just about anything. But the Trump Administration seems to keep getting kicked in the teeth by the courts regardless of who appointed the judges. For example, the judge who ordered CNN’s press credentials reinstated was a Trump appointee. So was the judge who upheld Mueller’s appointment. GWB appointees ruled against Trump on DACA, sanctuary cities (joined by Reagan and Ford appointees on the 7th Circuit; also a 9th circuit decision authored by a Trump appointee), and family separation.

    So is it Judge Gleason? Or is there some garbage legal work being done on the administration’s behalf? Or is good legal work being ignored by the federal policy people and decisionmakers? Any attorney with about 10 seconds worth of federal administrative law experience would tell you that Gleason’s King Cove opinion is unsurprising and would question why the Zinke Interior decision didn’t explicitly address the prior Jewell Interior decision as is clearly required by case law.

    But don’t let a little knowledge get in the way of your diatribes.

    • appropriate user name snowflake. I can tell you are a swamp dweller, to hell with the people who live and die in a microscopic area of Alaska who want a tiny road for emergency purposes. and to the Alaska native people in the yk delta worried about their birds to hunt? what, a little road is going to send the entire geese and duck population somewhere else??? how stupid is stupid nowadays?

      • You are letting your emotions and lack of knowledge hang out there for the State to see.
        I live on the YK Delta for over three decades and I don’t know anyone opposed to the road, with maybe the possibility of the u.s. f and g.
        I suggest you study a map of Alaska. We don’t care what they do way the hell down there.

        • tell that to the native corporations that oppose it as indicated in the ap report, I guess they don’t represent your opinions? I have lived all over Alaska for 45 years and I know our map

  6. Got news for you, fella!! The culprit was Lisa Murkowski and her efforts to enable life saving and living for the people of King Cove. The deal has been in the works for years and years…The big problem is that this judge doesn’t give value to the lives of those who have lived there for eons, and neither did the former Interior Secretary, Jewell because Sec. Jewell spoke with a forked tongue, this judge followed suit.

  7. She’s a wacko “activist judge.” What would you expect from someone appointed by Obama? This not a “reasoned decision,” but one designed to ingratiate her cult following of environmental extremists and Trump haters. Pure Left wing rhetoric from the bench in a desperate move to employ the judicial branch in a rescue attempt. She’s more or less a radical voice in the wilderness, not regarding legal precedent or sound reasoning, but rather a decision made to tie-up economic achievement and growth by real producers of society. Her decision will eventually be overturned by the Supremes. This judge is pure and simple: a relic leftover of the radical element of our judicial system, trying to appease a minority constituency. Not a judge at all. An opinion maker of one. NOT FIT TO PRESIDE.

    • These judges aren’t elected. Marla is correct, that a judicial decision that does not correspond to the majority opinion of the people, and contraindicates the executive branch which was elected to serve the majority by a democratic process, must be viewed as a rogue opinion from the bench. This crank judge has an agenda. Her decision is based solely on political activism, not a sound legal basis. She’s a LEFTover from the Obama years trying to please the radical Left and Obama. Her opinion of ONE does not reflect the present needs or views of our state or country’s needs. Her appointment to the bench stinks, as do her unreasoned opinions.

      • This judge HATES TRUMP and she wants all in her legal community to know it. That’s how these snarky federal judges play the game. They want their legal brethren and fellow Democrats to know that they have some judicial power to aggravate the Executive Branch….meaning: I hate Trump too.

  8. The judge really meant to say certain executive orders can not be reversed. So.. how can they be? The Constitution can be changed, regular laws and regulations can be , but no path to reversal for presidents?

    • I believe the path suggested is that president introduce bills in Congress and get them passed (good luck). Heheh!

      • no way! an executive order from Obama can be overturned by an executive order by the current president..duh??

        • Evidently you didn’t read the judges ruling-which was that current president could not overturn Obama’s order.
          An appeal can certainly be attempted but in the meantime I gave a suggested path.

  9. This activist judge would do anything she could to rule against a Trump executive decision. Pure partisan political judge. And she’s dreaming if she thinks that the electorate sees her as fair, neutral, impartial and honest. She’s not fit to serve as a federal judge.

  10. Maybe this looney, partisan Obama judge will rule that AG Bill Barr must release the entire Mueller Report to Democrats and the Lefty media. Or, maybe she will order Trump to step down. She might even order the sun to rise in the west and the wind to stop blowing. There is still room available at API. Even a law library there with God standing by to help her with her next ruling.

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