The State of Alaska has asked the U.S. District Court in Alaska to find the Environmental Protection Agency’s order on State land in Bristol Bay unlawful. The order prohibits and restricts development of state-owned land on 309 square miles in southwestern Alaska.

“The Alaska Constitution requires that the state manage its resources for the maximum benefit of its people, and reliance on our natural resources is the cornerstone of Alaska’s statehood promise,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in a statement. “Yet, the federal government would turn these state lands — these lands conveyed to us specifically because of their mineral value—into a de facto national park.”

In filing the complaint, Alaska is seeking to protect its ability to manage its own property.

Alaska maintains that the federal government has violated the Cook Inlet Land Exchange of 1976 as well as the Statehood Act of 1953.

“For the federal government to preemptively block any development on state lands in such a giant swath – 200,000 acres – is a blatant affront to the sovereignty of Alaska and ignores our state’s many laws and regulatory programs that protect anadromous fish and other natural resources,” said Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor.

Department of Natural Resources Commissioner John Boyle said the state already has a robust permitting and monitoring process to protect and responsibly develop Alaska’s natural resources.

“The EPA’s decision unilaterally prohibiting development on State land – land that was specifically granted to the State of Alaska for its mining potential while setting aside other areas of Bristol Bay for conservation – is an injurious act towards Alaskans and must be corrected by the judicial system,” Boyle claimed.

The world’s largest undeveloped copper deposit was discovered on the lands the state received in a land exchange. Known as the Pebble Deposit, the area contains more than 57 billion pounds of copper, in addition to enormous quantities of gold, silver, and rare earth elements necessary to power developing energy sectors.

The state is not endorsing any specific mining project and has not completed state-required permitting decisions for the mining company’s proposal. However, the state believes that a development proposal should be allowed to complete the permitting process and not be unilaterally shut down by one federal agency.

By tying up 309 square miles of state land in Bristol Bay with new regulations, Alaska maintains that the federal government has violated the Cook Inlet Land Exchange of 1976 as well as the Statehood Act of 1953. In March, the state filed a complaint in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims asking for damages for its confiscated lands, which the state estimates to be more than $700 billion.

Last July, Alaska asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear this case and order the EPA to correct its circumvention of a federal permitting process. The court denied that request, necessitating the filing of the two recent actions. Either of these new cases may be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

Read the full complaint here.

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Alaska sues feds for locking up land in Bristol Bay, claiming it ‘violates Statehood Act’

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Friend of Humanity says:

    Good to see this action!

  • John J Otness says:

    Alaska sues lol. Im sure if it reaches the Supreme Court of the Corrupt they will rule against their Fiefdom Overlords.
    This is all distraction to keep our focus off the real bolshevik takeover invasion of this Land…. But enjoy the ride.

  • Diana H Graf says:

    It’s been in Federal possession for a year and the expectation is the chains and bars will be broken
    and we will receive back what is ours? In this day and age? No one saw Obama going in and out of Alaska in his administration or Biden and Murkowski
    rubbing their hands at the prospect of more wealth for elite concerns? Does Alaska owe the Federal government
    anything? What is the law we are breaking suddenly?

  • Mhj says:

    Interesting to see how this plays out as well as the recent North Slope edict.

  • ML, just common sense says:

    It’s time we tell the federal government to get out of Alaska! We can manage our affairs a whole lot better than they manage the affairs of this nation. The current administration has hog tied Alaska, from economic prosperity, and continues to do so as mentioned by Mhj. It’s to draw the line!