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Alaska sues US over Arctic plan rejection

President Barack Obama speaks to the press at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington

18 March 2014, News Wires – The state of Alaska has sued the administration of US President Barack Obama over the rejection of an oil and gas exploration plan for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Alaska proposed a plan last year to test the resource base in the environmentally sensitive Arctic region using 3D seismic evaluations. However, the US Fish & Wildlife Service told Governor Sean Parnell last year that it would not review the plan because the US Interior Department had previously ruled that the state’s right to explore the region had expired decades earlier.

In the lawsuit, Parnell claims the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 authorises “exploratory activity within the coastal plain” of ANWR, also known as the 1002 area.

The lawsuit is due in part to Fish & Wildlife’s “improper” refusal to revisit its interpretation of the law based “erroneous” interpretations, according to the complaint.(pdf)

“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,” Parnell said in statement.

“The modern technology that we are seeking to use is responsibly utilised all across the North Slope with extremely limited environmental impact, and would dramatically improve our understanding of ANWR’s resources.”

Alaska’s plan called for using “advanced three-dimensional seismic imaging that would provide the people of Alaska and the United States with valuable information about the extent and accessibility of the significant oil and gas resources” in ANWR, the statement said.

Area 1002 covers about 3000 square miles (4800 square kilometres) and, according to 30-year-old estimates by the state, holds a median volume of oil of around 10.4 billion barrels.

The state has proposed a plan to help fund a $150 million exploration plan using around $50 million from state coffers.

The lawsuit, filed late last week, names Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Fish & Wildlife as defendants. The latter falls under the umbrella of Interior.


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