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NEWS BULLETIN

February 18, 2003 --- Vol. 9, No. 19February 2003

BLM begins environmental impact study for NPR-A development

The Bureau of Land Management said today that it plans to evaluate oil development in the northeast corner of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and along the Colville River.

BLM said the plan calls for an environmental impact study in connection with a proposal from ConocoPhillips. The agency will evaluate prospective satellite oil fields that could lead to the first commercial oil production from the NPR-A by 2008. BLM said other oil from the Colville River area could begin flowing as soon as 2006.

BLM said it will serve as the lead agency, providing day-to-day coordination and direction for the Alpine satellite development plan EIS. Cooperating agencies include the state of Alaska, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Entrix, an environmental consulting firm, has been selected to assist in preparing the EIS. Work will begin following publication of a notice of intent in today's issue of the Federal Register.

Public scoping meetings will be held next month in Anchorage (March 6), Barrow (March 17), Nuiqsut (March 18) and Fairbanks (March 20).

"These meetings will help BLM identify issues, alternatives and potential mitigation as well as help provide resource, subsistence and other valuable information for the development of the EIS," BLM Alaska State Director Henri Bisson said in a statement.

"We want to ensure that the development of our natural resources are done in an environmentally sound manner," he said. The agency will accept scoping comments through March 31.

BLM awarded leases on 1.5 million acres following two competitive lease sales in 1999 and 2002, which raised $167.8 million in bonus bids, funds which the federal government shares 50:50 with the state of Alaska.

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