June 1, 2021 U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, releases a Secretarial Order which suspends the nine leases of the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge awarded on January 19, 2021 and directs the US Department of the Interior to initiate a comprehensive environmental analysis to review the potential impacts of the oil and gas leasing program and to address legal deficiencies under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Results of this review will inform whether the leases are reaffirmed, voided or amended to include additional environmental requirements. A statement released by the Parties of the Canadian Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement in response to the order is available here.
February 23, 2021 Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden released the “Roadmap for a Renewed U.S. – Canada Partnership” following their first bilateral meeting. Within, the leaders recognized the importance of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and “agreed to work together to help safeguard the Porcupine caribou herd calving grounds that are invaluable to the Gwich’in and Inuvialuit people’s culture and subsistence.”
January 20, 2021 President Biden signed an Executive Order which placed a temporary moratorium on all oil and natural gas leasing activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge recognizing the legal deficiencies underlying the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
January 19, 2021 The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced that it had signed and issued leases on nine tracts of land, totaling 437,804 acres, of the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Leases were issued to Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), Knik Arm Services LLC and Regenerate Alaska Inc. The lease report is available here.
January 6, 2021 The U.S. Bureau of Land Management opened bids received for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Lease Sale. Bids received totalled just over $14 million and averaged at $26 per acre, just $1/ acre over the specified minimum. This was less than 1 % of the $1.8 billion in revenue projected by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which mandated the sale to pay for tax cuts made. The bid results are available here. A statement released by the Parties of the Canadian Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement in response to the lease sale is available here.
January 5, 2021 The three motions for preliminary injunction filed were denied. The court found that it was not established that irreparable harm would be suffered absent a preliminary injunction.
December 15, 2020 Three motions for preliminary injunction were filed requesting a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent the Department of Interior for issuing leases or authorizing seismic exploration activities in reliance of the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program currently being challenged in court. The motion filed on behalf of Gwich’in Steering Committee et al. is available here.
November 2020 – December 2020 The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proceeds through the multi-step process leading up to a lease sale of the Coastal Plain. The Parties of the Canadian Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement participated in the public comment period associated with the Call for Nominations period, a process used to identify areas to be offered in a forthcoming lease sale. All of the submissions are available on the Documents page. On December 18, 2020, the BLM issued an amended Detailed Statement of Sale, withdrawing a number of tracts of land from the lease sale to take place on January 6, 2021, recognizing the “substantive comments from organizations such as Canadian governmental entities, Audubon Society Chapters, and Gwich’in tribal organizations”.
October 2020 – January 2021 The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service review the Marsh Creek East Seismic Exploration Project; a proposal from Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation to undertake seismic exploration activities on the Coastal Plain for Winter 2021. The Parties of the Canadian Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement participated in a number of public comment periods related to review and permitting of proposed seismic exploration activities. All of the submissions are available on the Documents page.
August 2020 Four lawsuits were filed against the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program. These lawsuits charge the U.S. Department of Interior, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with failure to comply with a number of laws and regulations in completing the Environmental Impact Statement process, signing the Record of Decision and issuing the Biological Opinion. The Gwich’in Steering Committee is the lead Plaintiff in one lawsuit’s available here.
March 2018 – August 2020 The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) undertook an Environmental Impact Statement process for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program. On August 17, 2020, the BLM published the Record of Decision which identified that that the BLM would be proceeding with the most destructive drilling alternative and offering the opportunity to lease the entire Coastal Plain. The Parties of the Canadian Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement participated in a number of public comment periods throughout the process. All of the submissions are available on the Documents page. On September 3, 2020, the Parties released a statement in response to the Record of Decision available here.