Note – Drill Here Not There: Petroleum Leasing and Conservation in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve

Joel Aurora

Volume 65, Issue 4, 1165-90

This Note analyzes the Department of the Interior’s recent decision to close off several
million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (“NPR-A” or “Reserve”)
from oil and gas leasing while allowing petroleum development on discrete areas of the
Reserve. After discussing the Reserve’s history, this Note examines the Alaska National
Interest Land Conservation Act of 1980 and its relevance to the NPR-A, and analyzes
the petroleum industry’s potential legal arguments against the Interior’s decision. This
Note also argues that the Department of the Interior’s decision is in accordance with its
administrative powers because the Secretary’s decision should not be considered a
formal public land “withdrawal,” but rather, a discretionary decision to deny lease
issuances within certain areas of the Reserve.

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