With the first-ever oil lease sale in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge just two days away, a federal judge in Anchorage will consider a request Monday to stop the Trump administration from issuing the oil leases.
It’s a controversial move, and a way for the state to secure drilling rights in the coastal plain in case no one else bids on the leases.
While geologists say the rock formations, oil seeps and old seismic results seem promising, big questions remain about where the oil is trapped, and exactly how much of it there is.
The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority is asking its board to allow it to spend up to $20 million on the sale.
BLM says it decided to cut the land from the sale based on comments it got during a 30-day period that ended last Thursday, which included concerns about caribou, polar bear and bird habitat.
The New Mexico Democrat is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe. If confirmed by the Senate, she would be the first Indigenous American to serve as a cabinet secretary.
Oil company Hilcorp has received the last regulatory approval in its deal to buy the Alaska assets once owned by BP.
The Gwich’in Steering Committee and 12 other groups filed a motion in U.S. District Court requesting the preliminary injunction. Separately, about a half-dozen conservation groups represented by Earthjustice filed a similar motion asking the court to freeze oil leasing and seismic activity in the coastal plain.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy wants the state government to sever its ties with financial institutions that won’t finance oil and gas development in the Arctic.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with environmental groups, saying the agency’s review of drilling impacts was inadequate.