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ANCHORAGE – Governor Bill Walker Friday submitted legislation that fortifies the powers and duties of the attorney general when approving settlements related to oil and gas disputes. He also filed through his attorney the motion to dismiss his public interest litigant lawsuit against the state.
The bill requires the attorney general to review oil and gas lease settlements prior to being finalized by the state. The attorney general must also determine that the settlement is limited to issues necessary to settle the dispute, does not settle unrelated matters and does not alter constitutional, statutory, or regulatory procedures required by law.
“This legislation safeguards the public’s interests in oil and gas development while assuring that our state’s tremendous resources are developed fairly and without harmful compromise,” said Governor Walker.
Governor Walker also withdrew the public interest litigant lawsuit regarding the Point Thomson settlement agreement he filed in 2012 prior to taking office. As he explained to the House Resources Committee on Wednesday, he sued because the public was left out of this settlement process, and negotiations happened behind closed doors.
“The State should never enter into a settlement that circumvents the public process,” said Governor Walker. “My goal with this legislation is to strengthen our statutes so future settlements related to oil and gas development on state land do not bypass our legal obligations to the people of Alaska.”