Completion of Yukon Flats land swap EIS delayed to fall of 2009
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Sept. 3 that the environmental impact statement for the proposed land swap between Doyon Ltd. and Fish and Wildlife in the Yukon Flats of interior Alaska is not now scheduled for completion until the fall of 2009.
Fish and Wildlife had originally planned to complete the EIS by the fall of 2008. However, it emerged in early August that the land appraisals required for the EIS were taking longer than anticipated and that EIS completion would likely be delayed into the winter. It now appears that even that delay was optimistic and that the EIS will take a full year longer than originally thought.
Larry Bell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assistant regional director for external affairs, told Petroleum News today that the land appraisals are among the most complex in the history of the U.S. refuge system. And, rather than periodically deferring the likely EIS completion date, Fish and Wildlife has now set what it believes to be a realistic schedule, he said.
We feel very confident we can have it done by the fall of 09, Bell said.
Doyon and some Native village corporations own a patchwork of surface and subsurface land inside the perimeter of the Fish and Wildlife Service-administered Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge. The proposed land swap would hand the refuge at least 150,000 acres of habitat-rich land owned by Doyon. In return, the corporation would be able to consolidate its land holding in an area of the Yukon Flats thought to be rich in oil and gas resources.
Fastest ever rate of Arctic sea ice loss in August
According to the National Snow and Ice Center, the rate of Arctic sea ice loss in August was the fastest on record for that month. As a result, although there are only about two weeks left in the ice melt season, it is possible that this year could see a record Arctic sea ice minimum. The current record minimum was set in 2008. The 2009 sea ice extent is already the second lowest recorded since the beginning of the era of satellite ice observations.
The Amundsen Northwest Passage route through the Canadian Arctic islands has been open for several weeks.
See full stories in Sept. 14 issue of Petroleum News, available online to subscribers at noon, Sept. 12, at www.PetroleumNews.com