OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is leading a group of 15 states filing a federal lawsuit against the Trump Administration, which authorized an oil and gas drilling program that will allow leases to be auctioned off in the undeveloped Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Ferguson’s lawsuit says the drilling would harm Washington state by exacerbating the effects of climate change on the state’s environment and economy, have major effects on migratory birds -- and bird and wildlife watching contributes to the state’s economy – and that the state “will likely bear the impacts of refining oil that is extracted from the Coastal Plain.”
The Coastal Plain is sacred to the indigenous Gwich’in people and has biological significance for hundreds of species, including caribou, polar bears and millions of birds, Ferguson’s office said in a news release.
According to Ferguson, Congress had protected the Coastal Plain from drilling for more than 40 years until a provision in the 2017 Republican tax bill opened the door for development.
The lawsuit claims the drilling plan violates multiple laws, including the Administrative Procedure Act, National Environmental Policy Act, National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
“The administration conducted a flawed environmental review that failed to take a hard look at the drilling plan’s impacts on migratory birds, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change,” the news release said.
The Trump administration says the drilling program could create thousands of jobs.
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