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Frosh joins lawsuit to protect Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil, gas drilling

BALTIMORE, MD—Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh on Wednesday joined a coalition of 15 states filing a federal lawsuit to challenge a decision by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to proceed with an oil and gas leasing program in the Coastal Plain region of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas development. The Coastal Plain is a 1.6 million-acre national treasure, unparalleled in its biological significance for hundreds of species, including caribou, threatened polar bears, and millions of birds that migrate to and from six continents and through the lower 48 states.

The Arctic Refuge was established in 1960. In total, the Arctic Refuge, sometimes referred to by its acronym ANWR, covers nearly 20 million acres of land in northeastern Alaska. The refuge was specifically created and managed to preserve the area’s unique ecology, as well as conserving fish and wildlife populations and habitat.

“The Trump Administration has opened a new front in its war on our environment. The Arctic Refuge is one of the richest and most sensitive ecosystems on the planet,” said Attorney General Frosh. “Opening up this area to oil and gas drilling would be devastating to precious landscapes and thousands of species.”

The lawsuit, filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska, claims that the Trump Administration’s drilling plan violates multiple laws, including the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act (Refuge Administration Act), the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (Tax Act).

The lawsuit seeks to block any exploration activities and to prevent the government from issuing oil and gas development leases in the Coastal Plain.

In addition to Maryland, the lawsuit was joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

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