Governor Sean Parnell has directed the Department of Law to ask the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for permission to intervene in the lawsuit by environmental groups challenging the U.S. Interior Department’s decision to approve an oil exploration plan for the Chukchi Sea.
“OCS exploration and development will increase jobs and revenue for Alaskans and for all Americans,” Governor Parnell said. “We will continue to fight for the right to responsibly develop the Beaufort and Chukchi.”
The state previously was granted intervention in a separate case brought by many of the same plaintiffs against an exploration plan for the Beaufort Sea. In both cases, the state has sought intervention due to the economic importance of offshore oil and gas production. Although the exploration plans by Shell concern federal lands, the state’s new motion for intervention stresses the impact that approval or denial of exploration can have on the state treasury and economy.
“The investments that a company makes in infrastructure for exploration on federal land can lower the costs for exploration on adjacent state land,” said Attorney General Dan Sullivan. “Any oil discovered likely will increase the flow through the trans-Alaska pipeline, which in turn will increase state revenue. Also, especially given the currently adverse economic conditions, the state has an interest in job opportunities for its citizens.”
Sullivan said that intervention by the state is particularly important when, as in these cases, no other party to the lawsuits can represent all of the state’s interests.