Alaska Gov. Suing Federal Govt over Offshore Drilling Moratorium

SAN FRANCISCO (Dow Jones Newswires), Sep. 9, 2010

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell said Thursday his state is suing the federal government to overturn a moratorium he said the government has placed on offshore drilling off Alaska's coast.

In the lawsuit, which Parnell said was filed in federal district court in Alaska, the state has accused the U.S. Interior Department of violating federal rules that require the agency to consult with officials of states that are affected by moratoriums or other broad policy decisions.

The alleged moratorium has "halted drilling in Alaska's Outer Continental Shelf ... killed hundreds of jobs and placed Outer Continental Shelf drilling in question," Parnell said during a press conference in Anchorage.

Parnell said that the Interior Department never notified him about its intention to call a moratorium on Arctic drilling, and that his efforts to speak with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about the ban were unsuccessful. Parnell said the Interior Department issued a one-paragraph statement in May about its intention to postpone approving exploratory drilling in the Arctic, which looked like a moratorium, but that he and other state officials weren't entirely sure that the department had actually issued a ban until last week, when Salazar said the word "moratorium" during a public meeting in Alaska.

"It's clear from the secretary's statement that a moratorium does, in fact, apply to Alaska," Parnell said.

Parnell said he believes the Interior Department unfairly "bootstrapped" Alaska into the moratorium that the agency placed on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

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