The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is now taking public comment on its plans to allow oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
The public has until March 13th to comment here. Comments can also be emailed to blm_ak_coastalplain_EIS@blm.gov.
The full “Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program, Alaska” can be viewed here.
What are you commenting on?
The BLM is starting the “scoping” process for an environmental review of the impact of leasing drilling rights to companies in the 1.6-million-acre portion of the ANWR known as the “coastal plain.”
“This scoping process begins the first step in developing a responsible path forward,” Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management Joe Balash said in a statement. “I look forward to personally visiting the communities most affected by this process and hearing their concerns.”
What are people already commenting?
Alaska Sens. Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young released a joint statement, saying:
“We welcome this scoping announcement and the Department’s continued work to implement our legislation opening the Coastal Plain to responsible energy development.”
Geoffrey Haskett, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, said in a statement:
“In its rush to drill America’s Last Frontier, the Trump Administration is trying to sell leases in the iconic Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as fast as they can, with no regard for why the refuge was created in the first place. This race to drill flies in the face of the Arctic refuge’s true purposes such as conserving natural diversity and shows the disdain this administration has for the natural world.”
Information made available by countable.us.
Recently, the Trump administration announced eight public meetings on its draft environmental impact statement for drilling on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The public sessions begin on Monday, February 4th.
February 4 – Fairbanks at the Carlson Center
February 5 – Kaktovik at the Harold Kaveolook School
February 6 – Utqiagvik at the Iñupiat Heritage Center
February 7 – Fort Yukon at the Fort Yukon Community Center
February 9 – Arctic Village at the Community Hall
February 10 – Venetie at the Village of Venetie Tribal Hall
February 11 – Anchorage at the Dena’ina Convention Center
February 13 – Washington D. C. at the National Housing Center
The Bureau of Land Management also gave the public more time to comment on the draft EIS. That plan was announced Dec. 21 and set a comment deadline of Feb. 11. Under the new schedule, the comment timeline will extend through March 13.
Congress directed BLM to sell oil and gas leases in ANWR's coastal plain in a December 2017 tax bill provision championed by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R). That measure instructed the agency to hold at least two coastal plain lease sales of areas no smaller than 400,000 acres over the next decade.
Interior officials have said the first oil and gas auction could be held late this year.
Take action today by commenting on the draft EIS. If you live in a community holding public testimony, attend the hearing in person and make your voice heard.