Another lawsuit: ConocoPhillips takes on Biden’s Dept. of Interior over NPR-A restrictions

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ConocoPhillips has sued the Biden Administration over its ban on oil and gas leases in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. The lawsuit is similar to other ones that have been filed in recent days by the State of Alaska and the North Slope Borough, as well as the pro-oil group Voice of the Arctic Inupiat.

ConocoPhillips says the Bureau of Land Management final rule cutting off one half of the petroleum reserve from development violates the federal law that compels oil development in the NPR-A.

“In promulgating the Rules, BLM has attempted to override and evade clear Congressional mandates, changing the management priority for the Petroleum Reserve from expeditious leasing and production to meet the Nation’s energy needs to creating ‘maximum protection’ of surface values and prohibiting development activities,” the lawsuit says. “BLM ignored Congress’ direction and made a unilateral policy choice that 13 million acres of the Petroleum Reserve are ‘too special to develop’ for oil and gas and should instead be preserved as wilderness areas, and gave itself unlimited authority to expand those ‘too special’ 13 million acres at will.” 

In establishing the reserve, President Warren Harding and Congress said it should be used for “expeditious production of oil to meet the nation’s energy needs,” ConocoPhillips says. NPR-A contains an estimated 8.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil, according to a 2017 assessment by the US Geological Survey.

Congress “plainly did not authorize BLM to promulgate sweeping regulations that thwart and prevent the production of petroleum throughout the NPR-A,” ConocoPhillips says. Yet, the rule contains “numerous new provisions that elevate resource preservation over energy production and effectively turn the petroleum reserve into a de facto wilderness area in which development is outright prohibited.”

ConocoPhillips’ Alaska unit holds 1.8 million acres of state and federal leases in Alaska, including one million of undeveloped acres as of the end of 2023, the lawsuit says.

Oil companies North Slope Exploration LLC and North Slope Energy LLC, which hold leases of more than 552,000 acres in the reserve, also filed similar lawsuits.

The case is ConocoPhillips v. Department of Interior, 24-cv-00142, filed in the U.S. District Court, District of Alaska. It has been assigned to Chief Justice Sharon Gleason, who often sides with the government and environmental industry.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Very consistent dilemma in which the Americans and Alaskans today are countenanced: government agency arms of the current US government that consistently both violate the law and further discredit US permitting, exploration leaseholds while destroying America’s sovereignty and future energy-commodities future. The final “nail-in-the-coffin, is another failed democratic solution to these law suits, whereby Supreme Court justices are over-seeing, indeed given extraordinary powers to determine final judgments on these transgressions as sole-charge determinants. When the final pillar of governing troika (the Supreme Court) becomes“partisan”, as we will see, this, along-with other lawsuits emanating from Alaska — all will further buttress environmentalist fanaticism. Sadly, today, the USA is entirely broken and divided. It’s future, indeed as the most powerful leader of the “democratic States”, stands to be a head goose steering freedom into the abyss. One look no further than the two leading contenders for America’s future “Executive” leadership, the 2nd arm of the governing Troika.

  2. The last sentence in this article needlessly editorializes an otherwise good piece of journalism and is factually dubious.

    • Unfortunately Joe, the last sentence clearly states what has been proven out historically with the liberal Judge Gleason. She has repeatedly stopped or stalled oil development projects in the name of “environmentalism”, even after COPA completely adhering to any and all requirements placed on them.

    • Given what I know (which could be rather limited in this area), I’d have to agree. Gleason held up Willow because she felt there hadn’t been enough environmental studies done on it. At that time, the EPA had more power. Eventually, she was satisfied w/the studies and Willow was allowed to produce and then limited by the Biden administration.

  3. There will be cases where judges rule against the plaintiffs. For example the off limits area for exploration in NPRA could be expanded in litigation. The off limits reas are not currently economic to develop anyway.

  4. The ultimate goal is to shut down the US. No production or manufacturing of anything. We will be a lifeless nation dependent on government and imports.

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