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December 22, 2004 --- Vol. 10, No. 124December 2004

Trustees’ attorney says no Bristol Bay lawsuit planned

Yesterday we reported that the state of Alaska denied a reconsideration request from Trustees for Alaska regarding the state’s best interest finding for Bristol Bay basin exploration license No. 1. That license had been applied for by Bristol Shores LLC, a company formed by four Native elders from the Bristol Bay Region. Although disappointed in the state’s decision, a staff attorney with Trustees said late yesterday that the environmental legal group will not take its concerns to court.

Vicki Clark told Petroleum News Dec. 21 that Trustees filed the request for reconsideration because the group did not think DNR had done enough analysis.

“We were seeking more information and a little more analysis, but it sounds like they plan to move forward without it. … We’re very disappointed given the fishery that’s out there. It’s a world-class fishery. But we’re glad they did acknowledge the need for a mitigation measure to prevent offshore operations. It was the silver lining of DNR’s decision,” she said.

Clark said at this time the Trustees do not plan to file a lawsuit contesting the DNR commissioner’s decision.

She said she had received a call from an area resident “who was angry” about the Trustees reconsideration request, but “who has since called us on another issue. I hope folks will give us a call and talk to us. There are concerns about outsiders coming in and doing this. They are concerned that our request for reconsideration is shooting down this local group (Bristol Shores).”

Clark said she has been in touch with George Shade, president of Bristol Shores. “We hope to have a meeting. … My understanding is that funding from the (Bristol Shores) project, if they’re successful … will be used to help with a lot of contamination out there. It’s a very laudable goal,” she said.

Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin said in a letter dated Dec. 15 that he has ordered the best interest finding amended to include a mitigation measure against offshore oil and gas facilities, a recommendation in Trustees’ request for reconsideration, but Irwin said he does not find the additional analysis requested by Trustees to be necessary.

Pat Galvin, petroleum land manager for DNR’s Division of Oil and Gas, said exploration license applicant Bristol Shores LLC has “30 days from the receipt of the commissioner’s final decision … to give us an executed license (sign the license form); pay a fee of $1 per acre, which is just over $329,000; and give us a ($450,000) bond to secure the first year of a work commitment.”

Jerry Allen, who heads the management group that is working with Bristol Shores, told Petroleum News Dec. 21 that Bristol Shores intends to move forward on the license but has potential investors who are concerned about what Trustees will do next.

Note: Watch for the full story in the Dec. 26 edition of Petroleum News, a weekly newspaper that is available online at www.PetroleumNews.com on Friday, Dec. 24.

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