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We were sorry to learn that the regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had rejected Alaska’s proposed exploration plan for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
Gov. Sean Parnell says that in his decision, Regional Director Geoffrey Haskett rejected the plan “despite the fact that it met all federal statutory and regulatory requirements,” citing a memo from former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt claiming that it was too late to submit a plan. Parnell says Haskett’s rejection was based on a “flawed legal interpretation” because he ignored ANILCA’s unambiguous requirement “to review and approve exploration plans that meet the carefully delineated statutory and regulatory criteria. This section does not contain an expiration or termination date, nor place any time limit on when such activity may occur.”
The state’s suggested plan called for low-impact, three-dimensional surface exploration of the 1002 Area (the coast plan of ANWR), which would help to accurately determine the potential for oil and gas resources. Parnell, in a statement this week, asks why the administration wouldn’t want to know more about ANWR’s natural resource potential.
We wonder, too.
And we hope the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Daniel Ashe, will do as Gov. Parnell asks and reconsider Alaska’s plan to take a useful look at what resources lie within that coastal plain.