The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) has taken legal action against the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), alleging the unlawful cancellation of leases in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) 1002 area. The lawsuit, filed in the Washington DC District Court, challenges Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland’s decision to cancel seven oil and gas leases issued by the previous administration in the Coastal Plain.
Background: Secretary Haaland’s authorization to cancel the leases came after the suspension of the leases in June 2021, following the issuance of Secretary’s Order 3401. This order identified “multiple legal deficiencies in the underlying record supporting the leases.”
AIDEA’s Claims: AIDEA contends that the DOI’s cancellation of lease agreements is illegal, asserting that the department failed to adhere to its own rules governing lease termination. The authority argues that the DOI’s unilateral decision violates constitutional and statutory due process rights and was inadequately reasoned, making it arbitrary and capricious.
AIDEA maintains that the original 1002 area leases were lawful, emphasizing that the DOI’s reversal contradicts Congress’s directive in the Tax Act to hold an initial sale and issue leases for oil and gas production and development by 2021.
Alaska Governor and Officials’ Response: Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy expressed strong support for the lawsuit, stating that the federal government’s actions threaten Alaska’s ability to support itself. He emphasized Alaska’s commitment to responsible oil and gas development under strict environmental standards.