Here’s more on the lawsuit from the Anchorage Daily News, which reports the suit was based on a decision by Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt:
They challenge Bernhardt’s signing last month that finalized a plan that puts all available land, or 1.6 million acres in the coastal plain, on the table for possible leasing after Congress in 2017 agreed to open the area to drilling. …
“The cultural identity of the Gwich’in people as caribou people is intertwined with the Porcupine Caribou Herd’s calving areas in the Coastal Plain,” said Margorie Gemmill, first chief for the Venetie tribal government. “Any impacts to the Porcupine Caribou Herd from changes in migration patterns, lower fertility rates, and loss of habitat will have significant adverse social, cultural, spiritual, and subsistence impacts on our people. This process must be stopped.”
Fifteen state governments in the Lower 48, including the states of Washington, California and New York, filed a separate lawsuit in federal district court in Alaska on Wednesday challenging the federal government’s plans in the 19-million-acre refuge.