Not Just For Alaskans

Alert and Commentary: Monday!

Joe Balash, Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. NGP File Photo by Dave Harbour

Alaskans who can should turn out en masse for a federal public hearing on Monday by 1 p.m.!  For years the Alaska legislature, Governors and state organizations like the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission and National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (i.e. IOGCC & NARUC) have been advocating for the environmentally responsible development of a small sliver of the 1002 Coastal Plain area which is a small sliver of the Arctic National Wildlife Range.

We know this Arctic. You don’t know the Arctic at all. They will tell you, as I will tell you, that it is 2,000 acres of Arctic. Is that worth this fight? Did I bring this fight on? It was the minority in the House that refused to vote for the rule that we passed on the reconciliation bill. This provision was in the reconciliation bill. The majority voted for it. Every other time it has been brought up, except once, the minority has filibustered keeping the commitment made to me by two Democratic Senators in 1980, Senator Jackson and Senator Tsongas. They wrote the amendment; I didn’t. They wrote the amendment that kept this area open for oil and gas leases.
U.S. Senate floor transcript. 12-21-2005.
NGP Photo by Dave Harbour: 3-12-10

Finally, the Congress has kept faith with its Senator Ted Stevens.  Nearly 4 decades ago, Congress promised to reserve that area for oil and gas exploration and development (See note, left, photo cutline).  As the Trump administration, including DOI’s highly respected, Assistant Secretary Joe Balash, seek public comment on how to go about leasing that area, we have indications of massive Outside Alaska campaigns to funnel an endless stream of comments opposing such Alaska natural resource projects as this one.

Below is an earnest plea from our Resource Development Council for Alaska colleague Carl Portman to turn out for the Monday hearing.  Please do your best to go and have as many of your employees and friends attend as well…and offer oral and/or written testimony.  After all, if the DOI regulators properly exercise logic and wisdom, they will appreciate and value the testimony of citizens who actually live in the 49th state.  Remember that Alaska’s Constitution heavily relies on natural resource development and without that assurance, the Congress would not have passed, and President Eisenhower would not have signed the Statehood Act six decades ago.

And let this be a reminder to our thousands of Canadian and Lower 48 readers that their way of life is also based on governmental decisions that are heavily influenced by comments obtained at public hearing in their venues as well.

Let us speak up, or forever hold our peace, if we can continue to preserve it.


Fellow Citizens:

The Bureau of Land Management is hosting a public meeting in Anchorage Monday, February 11th to gather public input on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement pertaining to a limited oil and gas leasing program for the Coastal Plain of ANWR. Please mark your calendar now for this critical event. We need all hands on deck! 
The meeting will be held at the Dena’ina Center and will begin at 1:00 p.m. and go until 7:00 p.m. with subject matter experts on hand to provide information and answer questions one-on-one in an open house format. Beginning at 1:00 p.m., individuals wishing to provide PUBLIC TESTIMONY may do so with breaks occurring at 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. for a BLM presentation. The microphone will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis. People may also drop off written comments to BLM at the meeting. Computers will be available for people to submit comments online. 

Public meetings started this week in Fairbanks and rural Alaska communities. The Anchorage meeting will be the last in Alaska before a final  in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Please attend and encourage your colleagues to participate. As a token to our appreciation for your efforts, please see the attached coupon for a free gourmet coffee or beverage from the Dena’ina coffee cart during the meeting. Also attached are comment points to assist you in formulating your brief testimony.

It is more important than ever to express your support for the leasing program at this hearing. In Fairbanks, activists hijacked the event, broke meeting rules, shouted at officials, and waved banners. They completely disrupted the proceedings and took control of the microphone with dozens of their followers. Testimony was 100 percent in opposition to the leasing program. 
Moreover, the Dena’ina Center is also the site of the Alaska Forum on the Environment Conference which begins on Monday. As a result, there will be many opponents in the building opposing any access to the coastal plain for its world-class energy resources.
Decisions are influenced by those who show up, so please come early and express your support of the leasing program.
The Draft EIS was released December 20th and in light of the government shutdown, the comment period has been extended to March 13th. 
Carl Portman

More On the Above Hearing

Deantha Crockett, Alaska Miners Association. Northern Gas Pipelines file photo by Dave Harbour

Alaska Miners Association Executive Director Deantha Crockett: “ACTION ALERT! Testify in support of oil and gas leasing in the Coastal Plain of ANWR this Monday!”

Alaska Support Industry Alliance: Update: ANWR Public Meeting & Testimony.  The format of the public hearing on Monday, February 11th has changed to include public testimony. More than before, we need  you to attend and express strong support for the proposed oil and gas lease program that would allow limited activity within the non-Wilderness coastal plain of ANWR.

If you can, please arrive by 1:00 PM at the Dena’ina Center. There will be a press availability for people from Kaktovik and some select native corporations. During this time, interested individuals are welcome to give public testimony. Please see the attached info sheet to help in crafting your testimony.

If you are unable to attend, you may submit written comments to or via the Dept. of the Interior webpage. The meeting will also be live-streamed.

ANWR Points To Consider:

In preparation for proposed oil and gas lease sales in the 1002 Area of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the Bureau of Land Management has published a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). Public comments on the DEIS are due March 13 after which BLM will prepare a final EIS and issue a record of decision on how to conduct the leasing program.

In addition to the customary “no action” alternative, the DEIS proposes three alternatives for leasing in the 1002 Area. The alternatives include measures designed to avoid or mitigate surface impacts and minimize ecological disturbance. At this stage BLM has not designated a preferred alternative.

The EIS will serve to fulfill requirements of the 2017 Tax Act to hold not fewer than two areawide lease sales on the coastal plain by December 2024. The first lease sale would be held after the Final EIS and Record of Decision is issued and will offer no fewer than 400,000 acres areawide of high-potential lands for bid.

The footprint of production and support facilities will be limited to no more than 2,000 surface acres at any given time, including private land holdings inside the coastal plain. Future on-the-ground actions, including potential exploration and development proposals, will require further National Environmental Policy Act analysis based on the site-specific proposal. As a result, decisions evaluated in this leasing EIS and its record of decision would not authorize any on-the-ground activity associated with the exploration or development of oil and gas resources on the coastal plain.

In 1980, Congress identified the 1002 Area for its potential oil and gas resources. A 1987 Department of the Interior report fulfilling requirements under Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) recommended the 1002 Area for oil and gas development. Since completion of that report, numerous oil fields have been discovered near the coastal plain and oil field technologies have significantly evolved.

Points to consider in your comments:
• Responsible oil and gas development in the small fraction of ANWR proposed for leasing will help ensure America’s energy security for decades.
• The DEIS includes a wide range of alternatives which contain measures to avoid or mitigate surface impacts and minimize ecological disturbance throughout the program area.
• Under the three development alternatives, the footprint of production and support facilities will be limited to no more than 2,000 surface acres of the 1.6 million-acre 1002 Area.
• Energy production from the non-Wilderness coastal plain has the potential to offset a decline in Lower 48 shale oil production, which is expected to commence in approximately a decade.
• The program area covered by the DEIS contains an estimated 7.68 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil and 7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
• Alaska’s economic lifeline, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), is now running at three-quarters empty. New oil production from the coastal plain has the potential to reverse throughput in TAPS, a vital component of American energy infrastructure.
• Oil development on a fraction of the coastal plain would create thousands of jobs nationwide, generate billions of dollars in government revenue for public services.
• Since the non-Wilderness coastal plain is less than 60 miles from TAPS, development of energy resources there is one of the most environmentally-sound ways to increase oil production in Alaska.
• Thanks to continuing improvements in technology, practices, and oversight, the oil industry has demonstrated over the past 40 years that North Slope energy development and environmental stewardship can and do coexist. The industry has a proven track record of responsible development in sensitive areas, protecting the environment, wildlife and subsistence needs of local residents.
• Advances in technology have greatly reduced the footprint of development in the Arctic. As much as 60-plus square miles can now be developed from a single 12 to 14 acre gravel drill site.
• Polls have consistently shown Alaskans overwhelmingly support responsible oil and gas development in the non-Wilderness portion of ANWR.
• While renewable energy is a growing part of America’s energy portfolio, it is still projected to account for a minority of American energy production in 2040. New oil and gas production will be required to power America’s economy and can serve as a bridge until renewable energy becomes a dominant energy source decades into the future.
• The coastal plain was specifically identified by Congress, pursuant to Section 1002 of ANILCA, for its potential for oil and natural gas resources. Oil and gas from the Non-Wilderness portion of the coastal plain is an important resource for meeting our nation’s energy demands and achieving energy dominance.

Energy Industry Cyber Security

(And don’t forget that the Nation’s public utilities are vulnerable to Cyber Security, too!  -dh)

Alaska U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (NGP File Photo)

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. NARUC Photo by Dave Harbour, NGP

Chairman Lisa Murkowski and her ranking partner, Senator Manchin of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, will hold a hearing on Thursday, February 14, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. EST in Room 366 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.

The purpose of the hearing is to consider the status and outlook for cybersecurity efforts in the energy industry.

The hearing will be webcast live on the committee’s website. Witness testimony will be available online immediately before the start of the hearing.