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Real Property & Development Review

In Alaska, Oil and Gas Leases Convey Property Rights; Permits Do Not

Posted in Environmental

The Supreme Court of Alaska held that the Alaska Constitution requires only one “best interest finding” that an oil or gas project is in the state’s best interest, although subsequent permitting decisions must be made after a “hard look” that considers cumulative impacts.  Sullivan v. Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), Decision No. 6769 (Alaska Mar. 29, 2013).

In reaching its first holding, that a Best interest finding is only required prior to the leasing decision, the Supreme Court rejected the premise that each phase of a project could be considered a distinct disposal of an interest in state land.  The Court found that only leases convey property interests, and thus involve disposals of interests in state land.  After a lease is issued “There are no additional property rights to be conveyed at the later phases.”   To read the decision, go here: http://courts.alaska.gov/ops/sp-6769.pdf