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Federal Court Issues Another Favorable Ruling on OCS Development

Anchorage, Alaska – A federal appeals court has issued a favorable ruling for the State of Alaska that allows a continuation of data-gathering activities for oil and gas development in the ChukchiSea.

The July 28 decision was issued in a case originally filed by environmental groups challenging the Department of Interior’s five-year plan for outer continental shelf (OCS) oil and gas development for the entire United States, including Alaska.

The ruling by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was made at the request of the State of Alaska, participating as a friend of the court, along with the U.S. Department of Interior and the American Petroleum Institute. The parties asked the judges to reconsider an April 17 ruling that, if allowed to stand, could have halted all oil and gas development, including data-gathering, in the ChukchiSea, while the Mineral Management Service addressed concerns identified by the court. The court’s latest ruling was consistent with the relief sought by the State of Alaska.

Tuesday’s ruling by the federal appeals court follows closely on the heels of another favorable federal court ruling made on July 14 in a related matter: The U.S. District Court granted a motion by the state to intervene in a case in which a number of environmental groups are seeking to rescind dozens of leases issued by the federal government under an off-shore oil and gas lease sale conducted for federal waters in the Chukchi Sea.

“We will vigorously defend Alaska’s interests in ensuring that oil and gas developments continue both in the state and in the federal outer continental shelf,” Attorney General Dan Sullivan said this week.  “Recent federal court rulings, while not definitive, are encouraging. The Department of Law will continue to advocate for and safeguard Alaska’s right to pursue environmentally responsible resource development.”

July 30, 2009

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