Uncertain future for Trump's offshore drilling plan after legal decision

PHOTO: In this Oct. 17, 2017 file photo provided by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, oil production equipment appears on Spy Island, an artificial island in state waters of Alaskas Beaufort Sea.PlayU.S. Government Handout via AP
WATCH Senators clash in hearing over Interior nominee

The Trump administration's plans to expand offshore drilling on much of the country's coasts seems to be on hold Thursday after a recent legal decision that President Donald Trump couldn't lift a ban of offshore drilling in some areas, which was put in place by former President Barack Obama.

Interested in Donald Trump?

Add Donald Trump as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Donald Trump news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Add Interest

The plan, announced last January, laid the groundwork to expand offshore drilling in federal waters outside many states, and faced opposition from some governors who didn't want areas that relied on tourism or shipping disrupted by drilling. Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke also faced scrutiny for telling then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott that the state would be excluded from the plan.

But on Thursday, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said they don't expect to move on the drilling plan any time soon.

PHOTO: This Jan. 7, 2013 file photo shows the floating drill rig Kulluk in Kodiak Island, Alaskas Kiliuda Bay as salvage teams conduct an in-depth assessment of its seaworthiness. James Brooks/Kodiak Daily Mirror via AP, FILE
This Jan. 7, 2013 file photo shows the floating drill rig Kulluk in Kodiak Island, Alaska's Kiliuda Bay as salvage teams conduct an in-depth assessment of its seaworthiness.

Bernhardt told the Wall Street Journal that a resolution in that court case could be "discombobulating" to the plan if they move forward with it and that "I'm not at a point now where it's an imminent thing."

In his confirmation hearing Bernhardt told senators they were still in the early stages of the process.

Bernhardt's spokeswoman said he's "grappling with the situation" after the legal ruling and that the department is "simply evaluating all of its options to determine the best pathway to accomplish the mission entrusted to it by the president."

The Interior Department has focused on expanding energy production on federal lands as part of Trump's push to make America more self-sufficient.

Then Trump issued an order revoking drilling bans on areas of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans rich in wildlife but an Alaska judge ruled they were illegal because the law cited to create the protections doesn't give the president the authority to revoke them.

Environmental groups and supporters of the legal challenge hailed the news as a step toward stopping the plan altogether, calling it a win if the offshore drilling plan is sidelined or blocked altogether.

Comments