On Friday, Alaska's Governor Parnell announced that the state of Alaska has filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's refusal to consider the State's exploration plan for the state's coastal plain, or area 1002 of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.
“It is both disappointing and disturbing that the Obama administration, which claims that it is pursuing an ‘all of the above’ energy policy, is afraid to let the people of the United States learn more about ANWR’s oil and gas resources,” Governor Parnell said. “The modern technology that we are seeking to use is responsibly utilized all across the North Slope with extremely limited environmental impact, and would dramatically improve our understanding of ANWR’s resources. The State has filed this lawsuit to ensure all Americans have an opportunity to learn about the vast resource base Americans own in the 1002 Area of Alaska.”
The state asserts that exploration of this area was mandated by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) and is still authorized by the plain language of law today, despite the Fish & Wildlife Service director’s assertion in his final administrative decision in September 2013, that his agency did not have authority to review the State’s plan.
The Fish & Wildlife Service’s position was primarily based on a legal opinion, issued by a Department of the Interior solicitor in the final days of the Clinton administration, claiming that these provisions of ANILCA had expired.
Despite the numerous legal issues raised by the State in its filings, the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2013 refused to revisit its interpretation of the federal law.
Alaska State House Representative Ben Nageak of Barrow, who is the only person in the legislature to have been born in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge traveled to Washington D.C. earlier this month, where he spent time with senators and representatives, Arctic Power and the state’s delegation to the capitol. “Our message was simple,” Nageak said. “Let us do what was promised to us; allow for drilling. We, as a state, are doing what we can. We need you, as a government, to quit interfering. Quit letting environmentally extreme NGOs lead the way on policy and listen to your people, your citizens and elected officials. We are all environmentally-minded. My people cherish our lands, which include the area that today is ANWR. Our difference is we see the benefits to our people and our state and trust that there are stringent controls and standards in place to allow for responsible, environmentally-ethical drilling and production. Help us. Stop harming us.”
“Quyanaqpak, Governor Parnell and Attorney General Geraghty, thank you,”Nageak said in reaction to the news from the governor’s office. “We have been trying to open ANWR to development through the federal process for decades, only to be met with roadblocks, push-back, disinterest, and environmental extremists. The area was set aside for exploration. The federal government has not held up its end of the bargain. Our people need the energy underneath the ground there, and the economic opportunity it will bring. Alaskans need that energy, too, to provide revenue and stabilize our economy.