Following the government shutdown, the Interior department is giving the public an additional month to weigh in on its controversial plans to allow oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
In a statement, top Interior official Joe Balash said the comment period is being extended from February 11 to March 13, in response to requests from Alaska communities and tribes, as well as nonprofits from across the U.S.
Democrats in Congress who oppose drilling in the Refuge had also written letters urging Interior to extend the comment period, arguing the shutdown limited the agency’s ability to provide information to the public.
During the government shutdown, Interior was continuing to plan meetings about oil leasing in the Refuge, leading to outcry from Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups. The agency later announced it was delaying the meetings, although the dates and locations had never been publicly announced.
Interior finally released the meeting schedule today. The first takes place in Fairbanks on February 4. Other meetings are scheduled in the following days in Kaktovik, Utqiaġvik, Fort Yukon, Arctic Village, Venetie, Anchorage and Washington, D.C.
- The state’s Marijuana Control Board is now accepting applications for on-site consumption, despite uncertainty stemming from recent board appointees.
- The governor of Maine has signed a warrant allowing the extradition of a man accused of a rape and murder 26 years ago in Fairbanks.
- Records show state officials are exploring adding a second Juneau ferry terminal 30 miles north of the Auke Bay terminal to shorten travel time.
- Anchorage police Lt. Nancy Reeder has accepted Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly’s offer to serve as the city’s new police chief.