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July 09, 2013 --- Vol. 19, No. 46July 2013

Obama administration rejects ANWR exploration plan

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has rejected a proposal from the state of Alaska to collect seismic data and conduct exploratory drilling on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In a June 28 letter to Gov. Sean Parnell, Jewell said a provision in ANILCA, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, allowing exploration activity had expired in 1987.

“This Administration remains opposed to drilling in the Refuge and I support that position,” Jewell’s letter said.

The Parnell administration, however, is not giving up. Today, the governor and the state’s natural resources commissioner, Dan Sullivan, rolled out a new proposal to conduct a 3-D seismic survey on the coastal plain.

Parnell and Sullivan argued the ANILCA exploration provision never sunset and remains valid.

The state’s initial proposal, unveiled in May, was for a seven-year seismic acquisition and drilling campaign, with Parnell pledging to seek up to $50 million from the Alaska Legislature to help finance the work, which would be done in partnership with the federal government.

This new proposal is different in that it involves only seismic work, with the state conducting the project by itself.

Sullivan said a modern seismic survey, conducted in winter with minimal impact to the tundra, would shed new light on what resources might exist under the coastal plain and could change the “tired” debate of whether to open ANWR to exploration.

—Wesley Loy

See story in July 14 issue, available online at 11 a.m., Friday, July 12 at www.PetroleumNews.com

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