The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an Alaska water rights case for the second time.
On Monday, the court agreed to review Alaska hunter John Sturgeon’s case. That case grew from a 2007 incident when National Park Service rangers confronted Sturgeon and said he couldn’t operate his hovercraft in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.
The issue at the core of the Sturgeon case is a fight over control of rivers in Alaska. Specifically, who has the authority to regulate state navigable waters within conservation units in the state.
Those conservation units are things like national parks and preserves, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas and wild and scenic rivers.
Sturgeon challenged the federal government’s authority to regulate in those areas and State of Alaska has weighed-in on his side. But several other groups have written briefs to the court as well, including one attorney who says that if Sturgeon wins, the federal subsistence priority could be affected.
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- If the ruling stands, it could complicate the Trump administration’s effort to produce more petroleum from public lands in Alaska and the West.
As Trump administration contemplates drilling in Arctic waters, North Slope organizations stress need to protect subsistence resourcesIn public comments made available on a federal site, most North Slope institutions didn’t express outright opposition to the plan. But they did voice concern for subsistence resources and hunters' continued access to them.
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