Washington state is joining 14 other states in suing to block exploration and prevent oil and gas development in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Wednesday.
"President Trump's plan to open up America's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling is the latest egregious example of his administration's four-year assault on our environment," Ferguson said in a statement. "President Trump and Secretary (of the Interior David) Bernhardt — a former lobbyist for Big Oil — unlawfully cut corners in their haste to allow drilling in this pristine, untamed wildlife refuge to oil and gas development. I'm leading a coalition of states to hold the Trump Administration accountable to the rule of law and block this unlawful drilling plan."
Among the arguments in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Alaska, is that an environmental review didn't properly consider the effects on migratory birds, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Bernhardt said in a statement last month, "Harnessing the energy potential of ANWR's coastal plain marks a long-overdue, new chapter in American energy independence. Under President Trump's leadership, the open questions about the future of coastal plain oil and gas reserves have been answered; years of inaction have given way to an informed and determined plan to responsibly tap ANWR's energy potential for the American people for generations to come."
A provision of the administration's Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 opened the 1.6 million-acre Coastal Plain for oil and gas leasing, directing the Bureau of Land Management to do the first sale by 2021.
Ferguson argues the drilling plan hurts Washington by impacting migratory birds, and by increasing greenhouse gas emissions that will hurt the state's economy.
"Third, Washington will likely bear the impacts of refining oil that is extracted from the Coastal Plain," a press release from his office said.