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State Granted Expedited Review on Moratorium Lawsuit


October 15, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska - Governor Sean Parnell today welcomed news that a U.S. District Court judge has agreed to accelerate the timetable for resolving the lawsuit by the State of Alaska against the Department of the Interior for its imposition of a moratorium on exploratory drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The state filed its motion for expedited consideration on Tuesday.

"Development of the Arctic OCS will bring jobs and opportunity to Alaskans," Governor Parnell said. "It is critical that the federal government allow exploration drilling to go forward for the 2011 drilling season. Today's decision is an important step in that direction."

With the ruling, the court imposed an expedited briefing schedule, which is expected to result in a decision by the end of the year.

"We appreciate the court's prompt decision," Attorney General Dan Sullivan said. "We believe we have a very strong case that the Department of the Interior violated federal law when it imposed the Arctic drilling moratorium. We look forward to having our day in court to address this important matter as soon as possible."

The state filed its lawsuit on September 9, 2010, and filed its motions for expedited consideration and partial summary judgment on October 12, 2010. Under normal rules, the federal government's opposition to the state's summary judgment motion was not due until December 1, 2010, with a hearing on the matter likely in January.  But under the expedited briefing schedule imposed by the court, the federal government must file its opposition by November 5, 2010, so that a hearing will be held by the end of November, and a decision on the summary judgment motion can now likely be issued by the end of the year.   

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