Alaska agency approves resolution to consider lease purchase
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s state investment corporation has approved a resolution to consider whether to spend up to $20 million on oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The board of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority passed the resolution on Wednesday, KTUU-TV reported.
The state investment corporation’s resolution was opposed by some who called into the Wednesday meeting to offer public input. Most of the concerns, KTUU-TV reported, regarded the perception that the proposal was being rushed two days before Christmas in order to suppress public comment.
Former governor Bill Walker said the timing of the state Industrial Development and Export Authority’s decision had to do with deadlines imposed by the Bureau of Land Management, which is hosting the sale.
“December 31st is when the bids have to be in, so AIDEA has to move at the pace that it’s moving at,” Walker said. “There’s going to be some push back, I certainly understand and accept that ... but I also applaud them for recognizing that the window is closing up, very quickly.”
The land available for lease is in the wildlife refuge’s northernmost region. The land management agency had initially proposed to offer the vast majority of the plain to bidders, which would have encompassed about 2,500 square miles (6,475 square kilometers) of the nearly 30,000-square-mile (77,700 square-kilometer) refuge.
Conservation groups lobbied a number of the U.S.’s largest banks to stop investing in fossil fuels in the region as part of an initiative to block drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Banks including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America pledged to cease investment into Arctic oil and gas projects.