June 15, 2005 --- Vol. 11, No. 56June 2005

BLM issues EIS notice, calls for oil and gas leasing nominations for South NPR-A

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has issued a notice of intent to prepare an integrated activity plan for the South National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which would include an environmental impact statement. The notice initiates the public scoping process and a call for nominations related to oil and gas leasing in the 9.2 million acre portion of the petroleum reserve.

The agency also wants to know if there is interest in making part or all of the planning area available for hard rock or coal mining. Opening the area to mining would require Congressional legislation, BLM said.

Responses to the call for nominations related to oil and gas leasing are due by Aug. 26, and must be submitted in envelopes labeled “Nominations Related to the South NPR–A IAP/EIS” to protect the confidentiality of the nominations, BLM said.

They are to be addressed to: Call for Nominations, South NPR–A Team, 222 West 7th Ave., No. 13, Anchorage, AK 99513–7599.

Scoping comments are also due no later than Aug. 26 and should be submitted in writing to South NPR–A Planning Team Leader at the same address.

Scoping meetings will be held in northwestern Alaska, Anchorage and Fairbanks. All public meetings will be announced through the local news media and a mailing, BLM said.

The objectives of the South an integrated activity plan and EIS are three-fold, BLM said.

First, the agency wants to decide “what, if any, lands are appropriate to be made available for oil and gas leasing and to identify the performance-based mitigations that should be adopted to protect resources” if oil and gas leasing is approved.

Second, BLM wants to identify “options for and impacts of a range of management actions that BLM land planning guidance recommends be considered in land use plans, including recommendations for designation of Wild and Scenic Rivers.”

Third, the agency wants to “identify options for and impacts of a range of management actions relevant to certain resources and land uses of particular concern either to the public or to BLM.”

During the course of development of the South integrated activity plan and EIS, BLM will develop a river management plan for the Colville River. The Colville River Management Plan will tier off both the management decision developed through the plan and EIS for South NPR-A and the records of decision for the Northeast and Northwest portions of the petroleum reserve.

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