In preparation for proposed oil and gas lease sales in the 1002 coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Bureau of Land Management has published a draft environmental impact statement for a leasing program in the refuge. Public comments are now invited on the draft EIS and must be filed by Feb. 11, after which BLM will prepare a final EIS and issue a record of decision on whether or how to conduct the leasing program.
In addition to the customary "no action" alternative, the draft EIS proposes three other alternatives for oil and gas leasing in the 1002 area, with different alternatives proposing different extents of the area that would be available for leasing. The alternatives include measures designed to mitigate impacts on resources in the reserve and their uses. At this stage BLM has not designated a preferred alternative.
"An energy-dominant America starts with an energy-dominant Alaska, and among the scores of accomplishments we have had at Interior under President Donald J. Trump, taking these steps toward opening the 1002 section of Alaska's North Slope stands out among the most impactful toward bolstering America's economic strength and security," said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.
"A 1987 Interior report to Congress fulfilling our requirements under ANILCA recommended the Coastal Plain for oil and gas development. Since completion of that report, numerous oil fields have been discovered near the Coastal Plain and oil field technologies have changed significantly," said Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management Joe Balash. "The depth of expertise in arctic resources and issues from tribal members, state, local and federal agency staff was integral in developing a comprehensive draft environmental impact statement."
"Alaskans have anticipated the release of the draft environmental statement for decades," said Alaska Gov. Michael Dunleavy. "My administration and Alaskans overwhelmingly support ANWR development, and we are eager to inform and educate our fellow Americans that it will be done utilizing the highest environmental standards and safeguards to protect its land, waters and wildlife."
- ALAN BAILEY
See story in Dec. 30 issue, available online Friday Dec. 28 at www.PetroleumNews.com
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