Court Rules Against Nuiqsut Subsistence Users Approved Permit For Conoco Phillips Alaska
Army Corps of Engineers Permit Found Adequate
On May 26th, the U.S. District Court ruled against Nuiqsut subsistence users when it approved a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for Conoco Phillips Alaska’s Colville Delta 5 (CD-5) oil and gas project near the community of Nuiqsut. The Colville River Delta is the largest and most complex delta in the Arctic Coastal Plain. Two caribou herds, Central Arctic and Teshekpuk Lake, depend on the Delta, along with many species of fish and birds.
The Corps originally denied the permit for CD-5 in 2010 because the project threatened the Colville River Delta. But in 2011, the Corps changed its position and said Conoco could build the road and several bridges in the middle of this important subsistence area. Trustees for Alaska challenged the permit on behalf of several Nuiqsut residents who depend heavily on subsistence resources in the area to support their way of life, including caribou, fish, seals and birds. The project runs directly through some of the most important fishing and hunting areas for the residents of Nuiqsut.
A year ago, in an interim order, the Court found that the Corps had not adequately explained why no additional environmental analysis was needed. The previous analysis was almost a decade old at the time the agency permitted the project, and Conoco made numerous changes to the project during that time period. The Court directed the Corps to further explain its decision. Based on this new explanation, the Court’s most recent decision found that the Corps did not need to further evaluate environmental impacts and that the Corps adequately justified its change in position to allow the project to proceed. Development of CD-5 and the adjacent Greater Mooses Tooth Unit will result in the first commercial oil and gas facilities and the first production of oil from the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska.
TL;DR U.S. District Court ruled against Nuiqsut subsistence users approving a permit Conoco Phillips Alaska’s Colville Delta 5 (CD-5) oil and gas project.