The partial U.S. government shutdown has docked fishing boats in Alaska, delayed public meetings on a proposed wind farm off the Massachusetts coast and blocked pharmaceutical companies from seeking approval for new drugs.
But the Trump administration is working overtime to make sure the shutdown doesn’t halt oil drilling too — in ways critics say may flout federal law.
“One of the principles of government is that you serve everybody equally,” but that’s not what’s happening here, said Matt Lee-Ashley, a former deputy chief of staff at the Interior Department. “The oil industry is still getting business as usual and everybody else is getting shut out, so it’s fundamentally not fair and it may be illegal too.”
To be sure, some government work on energy projects is at a standstill now. For instance, the shutdown appears to have halted environmental reviews of Dominion Energy Inc.’s $7 billion Atlantic Coast pipeline and TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline. Interior Department permits to conduct seismic surveys to help find oil in the Atlantic Ocean also have been held up by the impasse.