Enviro Groups Sue to Stop Alaska Drilling

A coalition of seven environmental groups filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to stop a plan to open 8.8 million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska to oil and gas development. The groups — including the National Audubon Society, Wilderness Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Alaska Wilderness League, and Sierra Club — do not want to block all development. Rather, they want the plan reconsidered in light of federal protections for wildlife and habitats, and they want an adequate study of the likely environmental impact. Interior Secretary Gale Norton — named in the suit alongside the Interior Department, the Bureau of Land Management, and Henri Bisson, the bureau’s Alaska director — defends the plan as environmentally sensitive. Au contraire, says Audubon Society President John Flicker — in fact, the plan “failed to give permanent protection to even one acre of wildlife habitat in the reserve and failed to evaluate any reasonable alternatives that would have done so,” he argues.