Feds file environmental review for Cook Inlet lease sale

An oil platform at dusk
Cook Inlet oil platforms are visible from shore near Kenai, Alaska. (Rashah McChesney/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

The federal government has filed another draft environmental impact statement for a federal oil and gas lease sale in Cook Inlet and is asking for comments from the public.

It’s the second time in less than a year that the feds have put out an environmental review on a potential Cook Inlet sale, since the Biden administration halted the process leading up to the auction earlier this year. That pause was part of a larger executive order aimed at fighting climate change.

The leasing process resumed this summer when a Louisiana district court judge ordered programs to resume in Cook Inlet and the Gulf of Mexico, following a lawsuit from Alaska and several other states. The states argued the Biden administration’s decision was bad for economic development and that the feds bypassed the public process when they hit pause on the sales.

The potential auction includes 224 blocks across one million acres in Cook Inlet, from the southern end of Kalgin Island down to Augustine Island.

The department can still decide to cancel a lease sale after an environmental impact statement is filed. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees the offshore leasing program, canceled sales in 2006, 2008 and 2010 in Cook Inlet due to lack of industry interest.

The bureau is accepting public comments on its environmental impact statement from Oct. 29 to Dec. 13. The department is also holding three virtual public hearings next month.

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