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State Files Motion in Support of Arctic Outer-Continental Shelf Leasing



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August 31, 2017 ANCHORAGE — The State of Alaska has filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit regarding access to globally important oil and gas resources in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas on the Arctic Outer-Continental Shelf (OCS).

In April, the President signed an order reopening the Chukchi Sea OCS and portions of the Beaufort Sea for potential exploration. The prior administration had withdrawn the entire Chukchi OCS and the vast majority of the Beaufort OCS from the Department of Interior’s 2016 5-Year Offshore Leasing Plan. This matter is now in court. The State’s motion seeks to intervene in support of the President’s April order.

“In filing this motion, our objective is to make sure that the State of Alaska has future development opportunities in the Arctic OCS,” said Governor Bill Walker. “State agencies routinely balance environmental conservation and protection with responsible resource development, and the Arctic OCS is no different. This gives the state a unique stake in the outcome of this litigation, and puts us in the best position to defend those interests.”

Alaska’s oil and gas resources can contribute significantly to meeting future U.S. energy needs; estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management indicate as much as 40 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable conventional oil and more than 200 trillion cubic feet of conventional natural gas lie in the region. OCS production would also help boost throughput in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and increase state revenue and jobs.

“Federal law recognizes that input from coastal states is the cornerstone of access to these resources,” Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack said. “Access to them should not be limited without consultation with the state and local governments.”

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