The State of Alaska today formally asked U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Daniel Ashe to reconsider and reverse his agency's denial of the state's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) Section 1002(e) Exploration Plan.
"The regional director's decision was both an inaccurate and restrictive interpretation of federal law that blocks Congress and the public from better understanding ANWR's natural resource potential," Governor Sean Parnell said.
"I am confident the director will take a hard look at that decision, in light of the state's strong legal position and the enormous opportunity the state is offering to the nation in its exploration plan. Fundamentally, the question remains -- "Why doesn't the current administration want to know more about ANWR's natural resource potential?'"
In its exploration plan submitted on July 9, the state proposed a state-funded program to conduct low-impact 3-D seismic testing throughout the coastal plain, or 1002 Area, of ANWR. The scientific data to be gathered would greatly improve understanding of the hydrocarbon resources in the 1002 Area and assist Congress and federal agencies as they make future decisions regarding development in the region.
In a July 23 letter, Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Geoffrey Haskett rejected the state's exploration plan despite the fact it met all federal statutory and regulatory requirements. In his decision, the regional director cited a policy memo prepared by former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt at the end of President Clinton's administration that claimed the opportunity to submit exploration plans under Section 1002(e) of ANILCA had expired.
Under Fish and Wildlife Service regulations, the director has 30 days to affirm, reverse, or modify the decision of the regional director.