The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority filed a lawsuit against the Department of Interior today, alleging that the cancellation of AIDEA’s leases in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge’s Area 1002 was not only unlawful, it has had detrimental effects on Alaska’s communities.
The legal action comes in response to the Biden Administration’s decision to cancel these leases, which it did in violation of federal law.
The dispute centers around Section 20001(b)(2)(A) of Public Law No. 115-97, commonly referred to as the “Tax Act,” which explicitly mandates the DOI to establish and administer a competitive oil and gas program for the leasing, development, production, and transportation of oil and gas in and from the Coastal Plain, including the ANWR 1002 area.
“The federal government is determined to strip away Alaska’s ability to support itself, and we have got to stop it,” said Gov. Mike Dunleavy. “Alaska does responsible oil and gas development in the Arctic under stricter environmental standards than anywhere else in the world. Yet the federal government is focused on trying to stop our ability to produce oil and gas. Each action they take demonstrates a failure to comprehend the worldwide demand for oil and gas.”
Dunleavy pointed out that if Alaska continues to be denied its constitutional right to safely develop resources, countries with much lower environmental standards will fill that void with significant environmental impacts. The State of Alaska will continue being bold in defending its rights, he said.
“We will not allow illegal actions to occur against Alaska, and I fully support this lawsuit,” Dunleavy said.
AIDEA’s lawsuit raises several key points of contention:
- DOI failed to adhere to its own rules governing lease termination, making the cancellation of the 1002 area leases invalid.
- The 1002 area leases were initially considered lawful, but DOI’s reversal from its original position directly contradicts Congress’s directive in the Tax Act to hold an initial sale and issue leases for oil and gas production and development by 2021.
- DOI’s unilateral decision to cancel the leases is alleged to violate constitutional and statutory due process rights.
- DOI’s decision was inadequately reasoned and unsupported by facts, rendering the lease cancellation decision arbitrary and capricious.
AIDEA filed the lawsuit on Alaska Day, symbolizing its commitment to defending the rights of Alaskans and challenging what they perceive as an overreach by the federal government.
“Unfortunately, Alaskans can expect more illegal acts by the federal government based on campaign rhetoric. A willingness to circumvent laws passed by Congress has consequences reaching far beyond ANWR’s boundaries and will impact future development across this country. AIDEA will aggressively defend our lease rights and oppose this unlawful action,” said Randy Ruaro, Executive Director of AIDEA.
As the legal battle unfolds, it remains to be seen how the courts will ultimately rule on the contentious issue of ANWR lease cancellations and their implications for Alaska’s energy industry and its communities.