Here, we provide testimony to officials representing the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management and Environmental Protection Agency. Photo courtesy RDC
We will add other comment and information about the event for our archives here, as it is received.
Meanwhile, we provide, here, a copy of our own testimony and offer our appreciation to RDC for the file photo. Scroll down for quick reference. -dh
Testimony for: Ted A. Murphy, Acting Director, The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Alaska State Office, Anchorage, Alaska Regarding Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program EIS
February 11, 1019 (2-13-19 copy)
Thank you for the opportunity to provide this brief comment.
- In some of last year’s scoping meetings you heard from a few witnesses that the current EIS process should be rigorous because much on Alaska’s North Slope has changed over the years. While that statement is partly correct, the BLM, USFWS and DOI management should value and never discount some extremely important studies that could have great value in today’s work.
- By 1976, the Arctic Gas project had completed $250 million of engineering and environmental studies which, in part, covered the 1.56 million area we know as the ANWR Coastal Plain. The 26 member Arctic Gas consortium had also constructed an engineering and environmental test facility at Prudhoe Bay, where ANWR related studies were completed. All of those vast studies are found within a 44 volume “Biological Report Series” which the consortium filed with the Federal Power Commission and the DOI and which was donated to UAF, the UAA-APU Consortium Library and the State library archives in Juneau.
- The Biological Report Series along with vast engineering studies embraced the omnibus ecology of the coastal plain.
- As part of that vast study the Arctic Gas Consortium studied the wintering habits of anadromous Arctic Char. Environmental researchers determined where in the rivers of the North Slope the Char overwintered in deep, cold but unfrozen freshwater pools. But they also kept those exact locations secret lest enthusiastic local or visiting fisherman clean out a whole run of fish in a single expedition.
- The summertime, caribou noise studies are also relevant today, as well as the effect of mosquito populations on caribou calf survival and the benefits to caribou of gravel pads and roads rising out of the muskeg to provide breezy relief from “bugs”. Archeological values, revegetation and other useful values are a part of that ancient but still valuable environmental study from 1976.
- Some of your previous witnesses lamented that BLM was taking the helm on this project from USFWS. But many of us local folk will remember that earlier USFWS hearings resulted in what we regarded as biased decisions to manage the Refuge like a wilderness. Those actions violated ANILCA’s Congressional intent. So I would urge managers to approach this Congressional Coastal Plain mandate in an objective way that is sensitive to the will of Congress both during passage of the Tax Bill last year and ANILCA in 1980. With passage of those two bills Congress intended to authorize oil and gas development, not the use of NEPA or other factors to discourage, stall or derail it.
- As to the alternatives presented, I would defer to industry and agency professionals who will carefully review the concerns presented during these hearings with technical, legal and practical realities.
- Having spent much time with many dear North Slope village friends, I found both wisdom and special interest represented in your scoping comment transcripts. After all, Arctic people are human, like those of us living in urban Alaska, and have their own valid agendas as we do. I particularly valued some of the enlightened statements of Dennis Stacey and Charles Lampe, though all of the village comments give important perspective to regulators. As a former regulator myself, I appreciate the many apples and oranges values you’ll be evaluating: for some comments directly address the EIS process and DOI business while other comments deal with what subsidies from “some source” could make life more pleasant in that harsh environment. Separating the public interest from special interest is often the most demanding feature of regulation.
Alaska Resident, 99504