An 800,000-acre section of the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will be open to oil and gas leases, with the publishing of a final report from the Bureau of Land Management, it was announced today.
Today the Department of the Interior made available the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
The environmental analysis considers a range of alternatives in order to meet energy leasing provisions contained in Section 20001 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-97), signed into law by President Trump on December 22, 2017.
“Affordable energy and great paying energy jobs help power our nation’s economy, which is clearly thriving under President Trump’s policies,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt in a a statement.
“After rigorous review, robust public comment, and a consideration of a range of alternatives, today’s announcement is a big step to carry out the clear mandate we received from Congress to develop and implement a leasing program for the Coastal Plain, a program the people of Alaska have been seeking for over 40 years,” he said.
The Act directs the Secretary of the Interior, through BLM, to establish two area-wide leasing sales, not less than 400,000 acres each, along the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It also authorizes up to 2,000 acres, or 0.01% of ANWR’s 19.3 million acres, for surface facilities.
“A large and diverse team including Tribes, partners, the state of Alaska and experts from across the Service worked with BLM on the range of alternatives contained in the EIS, as well as the protective mitigation measures that would apply to oil and gas activities in this unique area,” said Margaret Everson, Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”The team’s work forms the scientific and conservation foundation that will protect high-value wildlife habitats and important uses in this area, while advancing the President’s agenda on energy independence.”
More than 70 employees (BLM, contract, other federal agencies and the State of Alaska) and at least 13,000 labor hours were dedicated to developing the EIS.
The analysis included staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who were instrumental in developing the range of alternatives contained in the EIS as well as the protective mitigation measures. The EIS includes protections for species native to the area and any migrating species listed as threatened or endangered.
“Forty years after Congress selected the Arctic Coastal Plain for potential energy development, the Trump Administration is making good on that decades old potential,”said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy. “I join with all Alaska Governors since 1980 in assuring the nation and the world that we develop our natural resources responsibly. I look forward to the lease sale scheduled for later this year.”
“This is a major step forward in our decades-long efforts to allow for responsible resource development in Alaska’s 1002 Area, and I thank Secretary Bernhardt and his team for their thousands of hours of hard work,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski. “I’m hopeful we can now move to a lease sale in the very near future, just as Congress intended, so that we can continue to strengthen our economy, our energy security, and our long-term prosperity.”
“For decades, Alaskans have been urging their federal government to open the 1002 area of ANWR for exploration,”said Sen. Dan Sullivan. “At long last, Congress voted to allow it. Now, the administration is working diligently to fulfill Congress’s directions in a transparent and responsible process. I welcome today’s announcement— another critical step in the process to unleash Alaska’s energy and economic potential. As Alaska has shown time and again, we can responsibly develop our resources, under the highest environmental standards, to grow our state and significantly contribute toward the goal of energy dominance for our country.”
“The release of this final EIS to open the 1002 area of ANWR is the culmination of decades of work. I have fought for responsible oil and gas exploration on the Coastal Plain since ANWR was created, and I am immensely pleased that we have reached this stage,” said Rep. Don Young. “Alaskans are committed environmental stewards, and they know how to balance environmental protection and resource development — we did it in Prudhoe Bay and we’ll do it again in ANWR. I want to thank President Trump and his Administration, particularly Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, the former Assistant Secretary, and Alaska BLM State Director Chad Padgett for their tireless work in completing this EIS and getting us closer to fully-realized resource development in the 1002 area of ANWR.”