United States v. Alaska
Annotate this Case
530 U.S. 1021 (1997)
OCTOBER TERM, 1999
UNITED STATES v. ALASKA
on bill of complaint
No. 84, Orig. Decided June 19, 1997—Decree entered June 29, 2000
Opinion reported: 521 U. S. 1.
The joint motion for entry of a decree is granted.
On June 18, 1979, the Court granted the United States leave to file a bill of complaint setting out a dispute over the rights of the United States and the State of Alaska to offer lands in the Beaufort Sea for mineral leasing. 442 U. S. 937. The Court appointed a Special Master to direct subsequent proceedings and to submit such reports as he deemed appropriate. 444 U. S. 1065 (1980). The Court later referred to the Master the State of Alaska's motion for leave to file a counterclaim seeking a decree quieting its title to coastal submerged lands within two federal reservations, the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Range (now known as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). 445 U. S. 914 (1980).
From 1980 through 1986, the Master oversaw extensive hearings and briefing. On May 20, 1996, the Court received and ordered filed the Special Master's Report. 517 U. S. 1207. On June 19, 1997, this Court overruled Alaska's exceptions, sustained the United States' exception, and directed the parties to prepare and submit an appropriate decree, consistent with the Court's decision, for the Court's consideration. 521 U. S. 1. The parties have prepared a proposed decree and have recommended its entry by the Court.
UNITED STATES v. ALASKA
IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED:
A. Alaska's Motion for Leave to File a Counterclaim.
The motion of the State of Alaska for leave to file a counterclaim is granted.
B. The Federal-State Boundary Marking the Seaward Extent of the State of Alaska's Submerged Lands Act Grant.
1. Except as provided in Paragraph C below, as against the State of Alaska and all persons claiming under it, the United States has exclusive rights to explore the area lying seaward of the line described in Exhibit A hereof and to exploit the natural resources of said area. The State of Alaska is not entitled to any interest in such lands, minerals, and resources, except as may be provided by § 8(g) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 67 Stat. 468, 43 U. S. C. § 1337(g), and Paragraph C of this Decree. The State of Alaska, its privies, assigns, lessees, and other persons claiming under it are hereby enjoined from interfering with the rights of the United States in such lands, minerals, and resources.
2. Except as provided in Paragraph C below and except within the boundaries of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and subject to the exceptions set out in § 5 of the Submerged Lands Act, 67 Stat. 32, 43 U. S. C. § 1313, as against the United States and all persons claiming under it, the State of Alaska has exclusive rights to explore the area lying shoreward of the line described in Exhibit A hereof and to exploit the natural resources of said area. The United States is not entitled to any interest in such lands, minerals, and resources except as may be provided by Paragraph C of this Decree. The United States, its privies, assigns, lessees, and other persons claiming under it are hereby enjoined from interfering with the rights of the State of Alaska in such lands, minerals, and resources.
Cite as: 530 U. S. 1021 (2000)
3. The boundary described in Exhibit A shall remain fixed for purposes of the Submerged Lands Act.
C. Distribution of Revenues in Escrow and Administration of Leases.
1. The United States and the State of Alaska shall resolve accounting and administration issues arising from the past issuance of offshore oil and gas leases in disputed areas based on the following principles:
a. Existing and Former Leases That Are Subject to § 7 Agreements. During the course of this litigation, the United States and the State of Alaska entered into agreements under § 7 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U. S. C. § 1336, and Alaska Stat. §§ 38.05.020 and 38.05.137, to allow mineral leasing of submerged lands in disputed areas. Under the terms of those "§ 7 Agreements," lease revenues are held in income-producing escrow accounts for distribution based on the outcome of the litigation. No later than 180 days after entry of this Decree, the funds held in escrow accounts shall be distributed in accordance with the distribution provisions contained in the § 7 Agreements. The United States and the State of Alaska shall carry out all applicable provisions and terms of the § 7 Agreements and shall administer the leases in accordance with the provisions therein. b. Existing and Former Leases That Are Affected by the Fixed Federal-State Boundary Described in Exhibit A. The United States and the State of Alaska have issued mineral leases in offshore areas that were not in dispute on the date of lease issuance and are therefore not subject to § 7 Agreements. Those leases may be intersected, however, by the fixed federal-state boundary described in Exhibit A, which is based upon surveys conducted after the lease dates. Leases existing on the
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