The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is still planning to hold its National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska lease sale on Sept. 27, despite a court injunction temporarily prohibiting further action on the final environmental impact statement (or FEIS) authorizing oil and gas leasing in the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area in northeastern NPR-A. The Sept. 27 lease sale includes both the Northwest and Northeast NPR-A Planning Areas.
“We are proceeding with the lease sale,” Danielle Allen, a BLM public affairs specialist, told Petroleum News Sept. 21.
Allen said that the sale still includes the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area.
A coalition of environmental groups, consisting of the National Audubon Society, Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society, have sued to stop BLM’s planned lease sale in northeast NPR-A. As a consequence of the lawsuit the U.S. District Court in Alaska issued a preliminary decision against the FEIS on Sept. 6.
The court asked for written arguments by Sept. 15 in response to its preliminary decision. A rebuttal hearing was scheduled for Sept. 21, a court official told PN. The court then needs to issue a final decision in the case. That ruling is expected before Sept. 27, an Interior Department official told one member of the press, although the court official PN interviewed was not able to confirm that information.
Teshekpuk Lake is a habitat for huge numbers of waterfowl and lies in an area that includes caribou calving grounds. The court’s preliminary decision said that BLM did not adequately account in the FEIS for the cumulative impacts on the Northwest Planning Area of opening the Teshekpuk Lake area.