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State of Alaska Intervenes in Off-Shore Drilling Litigation


December 18, 2009, Juneau, Alaska - Continuing the fight to protect jobs and resource development opportunities in Alaska, Governor Sean Parnell requested Attorney General Dan Sullivan to file a motion to intervene today in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a federal decision allowing Shell to proceed with exploration for off-shore oil.

Several environmental groups are challenging the decision by the Minerals Management Service. The state believes that the federal agency adequately considered the impacts of oil drilling on the Arctic ecosystem and subsistence activities.

"The state is uniquely positioned to intervene in such cases, in which our economic future is at stake," Governor Parnell said. "Outer Continental Shelf development is critical to the state's economic future. The state will not sit idly by when responsible attempts to explore and develop these resources are challenged."

The governor noted that the Outer Continental Shelf contains an estimated 27 billion barrels of recoverable oil and an estimated 130 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, making it an energy warehouse of immense value to the nation.

"The state filed this motion to intervene because it has a duty to develop its natural resources, promote economic development and make economic opportunities available to its citizens," Attorney General Dan Sullivan said. "This balance of interests is unique to the state, and will not be adequately represented by any other party in this appeal."

Sullivan noted that Shell's exploration plan has committed to extensive mitigation measures aimed at avoiding any interference with subsistence activities and protecting whales and the Arctic environment.

In the past year, the state has intervened in several cases in which economic development was at stake, including litigation involving the Outer Continental Shelf and the Kensington Mine. On Thursday, the state filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the federal National Marine Fisheries Service's decision not to list the ribbon seal as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
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