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State Files Motions Backing Lawsuit to Lift Arctic Drilling Moratorium

Anchorage, Alaska – The State of Alaska today filed a summary judgment motion and a motion for expedited review in its lawsuit to overturn the federal moratorium on offshore drilling in Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

The motions, filed in U.S. District Court in Alaska, support the state’s lawsuit filed last month to block the Arctic moratorium on the grounds that the federal government acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner and violated the requirements of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.

“We believe we have a very strong case,” said Attorney General Dan Sullivan, “that the Department of the Interior violated federal law when it did not give notice to or consult with Governor Parnell – as required by the OCS Lands Act – prior to imposing its Arctic moratorium.  That is the focus of this summary judgment motion.”

Sullivan noted that expedited review is particularly important following today’s decision by the Department of the Interior to lift the deepwater drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico.  The agency made no reference to the Alaska moratorium.

“It is a cruel irony for Alaska to have been improperly bootstrapped into a moratorium that stemmed from deepwater activities in the Gulf, and then have the Gulf moratorium lifted without similar relief for Alaska’s Arctic exploration activities, which occur in much shallower waters,” Sullivan said.

The state’s filings today lay out the facts of the Arctic moratorium and the numerous instances in which the secretary of the Department of the Interior has stated, including in testimony before Congress, that the agency has instituted a “moratorium” or “pause” on Arctic OCS exploration activities.  Under the OCS Lands Act, the governors of affected states must be given notice of and an opportunity to participate in such an agency action.  The state is seeking expedited review of its lawsuit so that planned 2011 drilling projects can advance.

For more information, contact Jonathan Katchen, (907) 269-5272.

The state’s summary judgment motion can be found here:

http://www.law.alaska.gov/pdf/press/101210-motion.pdf

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