BLM further delays ANWR lease sale DEIS
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Agency now expects to publish draft version of the supplemental EIS for lease sale program in the third quarter of this year
for Petroleum News
Bureau of Land Management has further delayed the completion of a draft supplemental environmental impact statement for its Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain oil and gas leasing program, according to recent filings in several court cases in federal District Court in Alaska. The court cases are challenging the legality of the lease sale program but are on hold, pending the outcome of the supplemental EIS ï¿½ the findings of the supplemental EIS could render the court cases moot.
The court filings say that BLM now anticipates releasing the DEIS in the third quarter of this year. Originally the agency had planned to publish the DEIS in June 2022, with the final supplementary EIS being published in April 2023, followed by a record of decision in June 2023. However, the completion of the DEIS has been delayed several times and, until this most recent court filing, had been anticipated for the second quarter of this year. Essentially, the development of the DEIS is now running more than a year behind the original schedule.
Approved by CongressAs part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 the U.S. Congress approved the conducting of lease sales in the 1002 area of the ANWR coastal plain, with BLM being required to hold at least two areawide lease sales in the 1002 area by December 2024. The first of the lease sales was conducted on Jan. 6, 2021, with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, Knik Arm Services and Regenerate Alaska obtaining leases in the sale. Multiple lawsuits challenging the lease sale program were initiated in District Court by environmental organizations, the Gwichï¿½in Native people and several U.S. states. These are the lawsuits that are currently on hold.
In separate legal action, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Agency, the state of Alaska and several other plaintiffs have challenged a June 2021 decision by the Department of the Interior to suspend all lease related activities in the ANWR coastal plain, pending a rework of the lease sale program EIS. That court case has yet to be resolved. Meanwhile, Knik Arm Services and Regenerate Alaska have relinquished their ANWR leases.