ANCHORAGE, Alaska— Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director of the Center for Biological Diversity, issued the following statement today in response to Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell’s announcement that the state has filed a lawsuit challenging the Department of the Interior’s moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in Alaska:
“Once again Alaska Governor Sean Parnell is demonstrating his eagerness to play Russian roulette with Alaska’s oceans, wildlife and fisheries for the benefit of his oil company patrons. This unsupported lawsuit is no more than a hollow political stunt aimed at keeping Alaska in the good graces of Big Oil.
“The Arctic is home to threatened polar bears, Pacific walrus, whales, seals and a wide variety of birds and fish. It defies logic to risk these unique Arctic species to produce more of the dirty fossil fuels that are already melting their sea-ice habitat. And drilling in the Arctic is a huge risk. We simply do not have the capability to respond to a large oil spill in the remote, icy waters of the Arctic Ocean.
“Halting drilling in the Arctic is not only eminently reasonable; it is also what the law requires. Multiple courts have struck down the plans that provided the legal foundation for oil and gas development in the Arctic. Governor Parnell’s meritless lawsuit will waste the resources of Alaska and the courts, but ultimately will change nothing. While his predecessor had a fondness for ‘bridges to nowhere,’ Governor Parnell seems obsessed with ‘lawsuits to nowhere’.”
Plans by Shell to drill this year in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska have been put on hold by two court rulings that overturned the Interior Department’s environmental reviews for the underlying lease sales. A separate plan by BP to directionally drill from an artificial island to oil reservoirs under the Beaufort Sea this winter is pending final approval by the Interior Department.