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State Intervenes to Protect Federal Oil and Gas Lease in Cook Inlet

April 27, 2023

(Anchorage, AK) – The State of Alaska filed to intervene yesterday in a lawsuit that seeks to block congressionally-directed oil and gas leasing on federal land in Cook Inlet. The State is defending the opportunity to develop through the federal government’s Cook Inlet Lease Sale 258, which was held by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in December 2022 after being mandated to do so by Congress.

“Given the federal government’s reluctance to encourage robust leasing on its land, the task has fallen to Alaska to defend what leasing has been made available--all the more so when the development directly impacts the energy security of such a large number of Alaskans,” said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy. “Development of the oil and gas resources in Alaska, whether on federal or State land, is vital to maintaining Alaska’s sovereignty, strengthening its economy, and fostering an environment where our residents can build homes and raise a family.”

Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor stated “Ensuring the responsible development of Alaska’s abundant resources is a right shared by all Alaskans. The Inflation Reduction Act provides a clear congressional mandate for development of federal oil and gas leases in Cook Inlet. By intervening in this litigation, the State is advocating for that mandate to be followed through.”

The process for bringing the federal land covered by Cook Inlet Lease Sale 258 to market has not been an easy one. The administrative process began in September 2020, but was then halted when President Joe Biden issued Executive Order 14008, pausing all federal oil and gas leasing activity on public lands or offshore waters. Alaska, along with several other states, successfully litigated for an injunction ending the federal government’s pause on leasing—only to have the BOEM cancel the proposed lease sale in May 2022.

With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, Congress required the BOEM to resurrect Cook Inlet Lease Sale 258 and hold a lease sale by Dec. 31, 2022. Yet before the BOEM could do so, five environmental groups—Cook Inletkeeper, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Center for Biological Diversity, Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, and Natural Resources Defense Council—sued the federal government. While not seeking to stop the lease sale, the plaintiffs allege the BOEM’s administrative process violated several federal laws and have requested the federal court for the District of Alaska to vacate the leases sold as part of Cook Inlet Lease Sale 258.

By intervening this week, Alaska joins the federal government in defending Cook Inlet Lease Sale 258 and brings the unique interests of the state and its citizens to bear in the litigation. In addition to serving as another source of energy security, making federal lands available for oil and gas development may provide Alaska with revenue in the form of property, production, and corporate income tax, and benefit Alaska’s citizens with jobs in the oil and gas and support industries. Because oil and gas producers are more likely to invest in projects where they can take advantage of economies of scale and develop projects on both federal and State land, development of federal lands in the Cook Inlet is vital to Alaska’s economy.

“Alaska’s interest in Cook Inlet goes beyond economic benefits to our core need for secure supplies of energy for the people of Alaska,” said DNR Commissioner-designee John Boyle. “The residents of Alaska’s Railbelt—the state’s most populated region—rely on the energy produced in Cook Inlet to power their homes and businesses. We must have further exploration and development of Cook Inlet to meet Alaska’s energy needs.”

For more information contact Assistant Attorney General Hugh Dowell at

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Department Media Contacts: Communications Director Patty Sullivan at or (907) 269-6368. Information Officer Sam Curtis at or (907) 269-6379.