Alaska Sues Biden Administration over Arctic Lease Cancellations


Fall colors are seen on Aug. 24, 2015, along the Canning River on the western edge of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  Photo by Katrina Liebich/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

An Alaska state agency sued the Biden administration over its decision to cancel oil and gas leases in Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday, 18 October.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., challenges the U.S. Interior Department’s decision to cancel seven oil and gas leases in Alaska's 19 million-acre (7.7 million hectares) Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This area is acutely vulnerable to climate change and is home to grizzly and polar bears, snowy owls and caribou herds.

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which held the leases before they were cancelled, is asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to reinstate them, arguing that the federal government's decision violates a clear Congressional mandate in a 2017 tax bill to open up the Arctic to drilling.

The federal government is determined to strip away Alaska’s ability to support itself, and we have got to stop it

Republican Alaska Governor

The U.S. Department of the Interior declined to comment.

Those seven leases were previously sold by former President Donald Trump.

The U.S. Department of the Interior justified the cancellation of the seven leases in September by saying the previous administration's lease sale was seriously flawed and failed to consider important things such as the climate change impacts from oil and gas produced in the North Slope.

The state's lawsuit said those concerns do not justify the Interior Department's decision because the 2017 tax law did not give the agency the right to avoid those impacts by declining to issue leases.

Source: Reuters