Gov. Walker says he will drop Point Thomson lawsuit
During a House Resources committee hearing Wednesday, Gov. Bill Walker said he plans to drop his lawsuit over a state settlement on the Point Thomson oil and gas field.
Walker told the House committee he will only file a motion to dismiss the case after he submits legislation Friday. This legislation, he says, will strengthen state laws regarding future settlements over oil and gas development. Walker filed the lawsuit before he was governor.
Wells were first drilled at Point Thomson — an area rich in oil and gas — in 1975 and in 1977, which is when the state approved ExxonMobil as the unit operator. Exxon presented plans of development for 20-plus years, but no new wells were drilled between 1983 and 2009, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
In 2005, Walker filed a lawsuit in an attempt to get the state to hold a public hearing “on why the state should or should not grant yet another [plan of development] when no development had taken place at Point Thomson since 1983,” according to a timeline provided by Walker’s administration.
A hearing was held, and the Department of Natural Resources put the 93,000-acre unit in default. In 2012, the state released a signed settlement regarding the Point Thomson dispute, which Walker says violated state law.
“Alaska’s Constitution and statutes are very specific about the public process required in the development of our natural resources because the citizens of Alaska, unlike any other state, own the resources. We are an Owner State and we should act like one,” Walker’s prepared remarks say.
Walker left the meeting after his short speech, and Rep. Mike Hawker complained that the governor didn’t stay for questions.
–Check back for updates on this developing story.
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