|Court rules in favor of BLM, ConocoPhillips
On Jan. 9 U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason denied a legal challenge by the Native village of Nuiqsut and five national environmental groups that claimed the Bureau of Land Management’s environmental review of ConocoPhillips Alaska’s 2018-2019 winter exploration plan and other industrial activity was deficient.
The village and its co-plaintiffs – Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club – also asked the court to issue an injunction prohibiting further exploration activities in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska until BLM redid its analysis.
Gleason upheld BLM’s environmental assessment and subsequent Record of Decision in a 73-page decision, ruling the agency’s review did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act or the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, as claimed by the tribal government and environmental groups.
As part of her order, Gleason dismissed the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth for lack of standing.
She upheld the 2018 EA and ROD authorizing ConocoPhillips’ 2018-2019 winter exploration in NPR-A.
Nuiqsut is on the eastern edge of NPR-A and has a population of about 500 people.
On Alaska’s North Slope, NPR-a consists of 23.6 million acres and is the nation’s largest single unit of public land. Established as the Naval Petroleum Reserve in 1923, the reserve was renamed and placed under the authority of the Secretary of the Interior in 1976 by the National Petroleum Reserve Protection Act. In 1980, the act was amended to direct the Secretary of the Interior to “conduct an expeditious program of competitive leasing of oil and gas in the reserve.”
– KAY CASHMAN
See full story in the Jan. 19 issue, available online Friday, Jan. 17 at www.PetroleumNews.com.
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