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“Arctic Refuge Oil Footprint Could Expand Illegally, Lawsuits Say”

“Gravel mines, airstrips, and ice roads could appear in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which Congress never intended when it agreed to allow oil development there, more than a dozen states are claiming in a bid to stop drilling there.

A complaint, filed Wednesday by 15 Democratic-leaning states, challenges the Bureau of Land Management’s August decision to move ahead with the oil and gas leasing plan for the Arctic refuge. Congress authorized leasing in the refuge in the 2017 Tax Act, ending a 40-year ban on drilling there.

Oil companies can disturb up to 2,000 acres within the refuge, under the 2017 law. But in a shift from an earlier version of its leasing plan, the land bureau interpreted that limit as applying only to “production and support” facilities.”

Bobby Magill reports for Bloomberg Environment September 10, 2020.