From: Yereth Rosen, Reuters
Published September 11, 2010 08:25 AM

Alaska seeks to overturn delay in Arctic drilling

The state of Alaska has filed a petition in federal court to overturn the Obama administration's moratorium on drilling in federal waters of the Arctic, even though Interior Department officials insist that no such formal moratorium exists.

The state's legal petition, filed in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, says the Interior Department "arbitrarily and capriciously imposed" a moratorium on drilling in federal waters off Alaska after the Deepwater Horizon disaster "without considering and weighing the potential effects on Alaska, including economic harm to the State of Alaska and Alaska residents."


The unusual move is backed by Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, who railed against the economic damage a moratorium would cause in the state.

"Development of Alaska's (Outer Continental Shelf) resources is of critical importance to Alaska's future and the economic and security interests of the United States," Parnell said in a statement. "We are taking this action to ensure that the federal government abides by applicable federal law, including its legal responsibility to make the OCS available for expeditious and orderly development."

But Interior Department officials said the drilling moratorium imposed on deepwater Gulf of Mexico operations is separate from a policy decision to take a go-slow approach on new Arctic offshore drilling.

"There is no moratorium in Alaska and therefore nothing to sue on. The moratorium is on deepwater drilling and there is no deepwater drilling in Alaska," Interior Department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said in an email sent Thursday.

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