Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
November 2023

Vol. 28, No.47 Week of November 19, 2023

JEM, jurisdictional evaluation method, AIDEA's tool for Sackett

Kristen Nelson

Petroleum News

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority has released a technical method for determining the status of wetlands, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency.

The issue is whether wetlands are subject to state or federal jurisdiction.

AIDEA said Nov. 9 that its jurisdictional evaluation method, or JEM, shows 75-80% reduction in federal jurisdictional wetlands, providing the state with jurisdiction over wetlands and could, the agency said, "eliminate federal bureaucratic red tape and forced payments of property owners to develop their own property."

Limits to federal jurisdiction

AIDEA said the Supreme Court recognized several limits to federal jurisdiction in its ruling, including:

*The requirement under the U.S. Constitution that federal laws give notice whether an act is a crime. "To give notice, federal wetlands must have visible surface water, be a relatively permanent water body (lakes, rivers, etc.) able to sustain the movement of goods and people, or have a continuous surface connection to such waterbody," AIDEA said.

*Statutory use of terms waters and wetlands in the Clean Water Act "as meaning relatively permanent water bodies ordinarily described as 'streams, rivers, oceans, and lakes', 'that were or had been navigable in fact or which could reasonably be so made' but not 'lands, wet or otherwise.'"

*Broad definition of federal wetlands would gut "traditional and statutory authority of states in the Clean Water Act to be the first or primary authority 'to plan the development and use - of land and water resources.'"

Implications of Sackett

AIDEA said it has been studying the implications of the Sackett decision with legal and scientific experts for several months.

Eddie Packee, Ph.D., is one of the key subject matter experts the agency used in developing AIDEA's JEM.

"Through rigorous research and collaboration, we have meticulously crafted a pragmatic and legally defensible method to assess and delineate federally defined wetlands accurately," Packee said. "JEM represents a significant step forward in our understanding and the ability to effectively manage permitting requirements We are hopeful it will pave the way for more informed decisions in the realm of land management," he said.

"In the battle against excessive federal intervention that has hampered Alaska's economic growth for far too long, AIDEA's pioneering solution could remedy this issue once and for all," said Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

"By precisely defining federally designated wetlands, we have brought clarity to the bureaucratic process and reduced federal control statewide. This achievement is a significant win for property rights and economic progress in Alaska. Credit goes to the expertise of individuals like Dr. Packee and the unwavering efforts of AIDEA," the governor said.

"Today, AIDEA takes a significant step towards restoring the balance between environmental conservation and economic progress with this new technical method for determining jurisdiction of federal wetlands," said Dana Pruhs, chairman of AIDEA's board of directors.

Randy Ruaro, executive director of AIDEA, said: "AIDEA's mission is to create good-paying jobs and economic development for Alaskan communities, individuals, and families." He said the agency is "committed to pushing back against federal overreach, enabling the responsible development of our valuable resources."

AIDEA did a presentation on JEM at the Alaska Miners Association convention in Anchorage Nov. 6, available online at https://vimeo.com/883016940/338ed74519?share=copy.


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