(The Center Square) – The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority is asking a federal judge to reverse a decision by the Biden administration to cancel oil and drilling leases in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge area.
The leases were approved by the Trump administration in January 2021 and canceled by the Biden administration last month.
The AIDEA said in its lawsuit the cancellation of the seven leases is unlawful for several reasons. The leases are legal and Congressionally mandated, the agency said. The lawsuit said the Department of Interior did not allow AIDEA to correct any issues to keep the leases.
“DOI’s unilateral decision to cancel the leases violates AIDEA’s constitutional and statutory due process rights, because DOI failed to provide AIDEA with an administrative process in which it could defend the validity of its leases, before DOI terminated them,” AIDEA said in the lawsuit. “Sixth, because the leased lands are known to contain valuable deposits of oil, a fact recognized by the U.S. Geological Survey, DOI’s procedural rules required that DOI obtain a court order authorizing termination of the leases, and DOI failed to obtain any such court order.”
Gov. Mike Dunleavy supports the lawsuit.
“The federal government is determined to strip away Alaska’s ability to support itself, and we have got to stop it,” Dunleavy said in a statement. “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.”
In addition to reversing the DOI’s decision, the AIDEA is also asking the court to order the Biden administration to proceed with the leasing and development of the area.
U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said the lease cancellation furthers the Biden administration’s “insane energy policies” that outsource oil and gas development to other countries.
“By outsourcing energy development, President Biden is empowering and funding America’s adversaries, harming the global environment with lower standards and higher emissions, taking good-paying jobs away from hard-working Americans, and disregarding the voices of the indigenous people of the Arctic region who strongly support responsible resource development,” Sullivan said.