View RDC and RDC member comments
Comment deadline was June 7, 2010
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced it will develop a new Comprehensive
Conservation Plan (CCP) for the 19.5 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
The Service is seeking public comments regarding the refuge and its uses, management, and
future. Public meetings on the planning process are being held this spring in Alaska and in
In ANWR, 92 percent of the refuge is permanently closed to development. However, 1.5 million acres of the refuge’s western coastal plain, known as the “1002 area,” were excluded from Wilderness designation under the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act
(ANILCA). In 1987, after six years of environmental, geologic, and economic study required by ANILCA, the Department of the Interior recommended that the 1002 area be opened to
responsible oil and gas development. An act of Congress is required for the 1002 area to be
opened, and in 1995, Congress voted to open the coastal plain to exploration. Unfortunately,
President Bill Clinton vetoed the measure.
The 1002 area on the coastal plain of ANWR, which accounts for only eight percent of the
refuge, is estimated to contain upwards of 16 billion barrels of oil and 18 trillion cubic feet of
natural gas. Responsible development can and does occur in similar areas presently on the North Slope of Alaska. Today, Americans overwhelmingly support new oil and gas exploration and development on our soil and ANWR development should be part of our energy equation.
As part of the update to ANWR’s CCP, the Service will conduct a review of the refuge lands to
determine if additional acreage should be designated as federal Wilderness. The Record of
Decision from this planning process could recommend the designation of the 1.5 million-acre
coastal plain as Wilderness, an action that would permanently close America’s most promising onshore oil and gas prospect to future development. Any proposed Wilderness designations would need to go before Congress for its approval. RDC members must show their support for keeping this area open to future potential oil and gas exploration and development.
RDC encourages its members to participate in the process by submitting comments and
presenting brief testimony at upcoming public hearings urging the Service to manage the 1002 area in a manner which preserves the option of responsible oil and gas development in the future and opposing new Wilderness designations in ANWR. It is vital that the Service and the Obama Administration hear from Alaskans about how critical ANWR’s coastal plain is to Alaska’s future economy and the nation’s energy security. Those wanting Wilderness status for the refuge will likely turn out in force at public hearings and can be expected to generate heavy write-in and email campaigns.
Fort Yukon, April 20
Arctic Village, April 26
Venetie, April 29
Washington DC, May 4
Anchorage, May 11:
Fairbanks, May 13
Kaktovik, May 20
How to comment:
Sharon Seim, Planning Team Leader
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
101 12th Avenue, Room 236
Fairbanks, AK 99701
Use a prepared form letter opposing new wilderness (opens in new window)
Points to consider in your comments or verbal testimony:
- Congress excluded the “1002 area” from ANWR’s large Wilderness block in a compromise struck under ANILCA. The compromise doubled the size of the Arctic Refuge and designated 8 million acres Wilderness. Congress also mandated a study of the 1002 area’s environment and petroleum resources. In 1987, the Department of the Interior concluded oil development would have minimal impact on wildlife and recommended Congress open the coastal plain to development.
- Upwards of 16 billion barrels of oil and 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are estimated to lie within the 1002 area of ANWR.
- Responsible oil and gas development of the 1002 area of ANWR would provide a safe and secure source of energy to the nation, create hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the country, and refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which is operating at one-third its original capacity.
- With advances in technology, it is possible to develop the coastal plain’s energy reserves while directly utilizing very little (potentially only 2,000 acres) of the 1.5 million acres in the 1002 area. Such development would allow access to energy Americans need without any significant disturbance to wildlife.
- Wildlife populations have all remained stable or grown over the 35-year period of oil
development on the North Slope. For example, the Central Arctic caribou herd at Prudhoe Bay has grown from under 5,000 animals in the 1970s to more then 66,000 animals today, an indication that wildlife and development can coexist.
- The 1002 area of ANWR must continue to be excluded from Wilderness designation.
- There is no need for additional Wilderness designations in ANWR, given 92 percent of the refuge is already closed to development.
- Alaskans strongly oppose a Wilderness designation on ANWR’s coastal plain. In fact, 78 percent of Alaskans support oil exploration on the in the 1002 area. Every Alaskan Governor and every legislature and elected congressional representative and senator from Alaska have supported responsible development. The North Slope Borough, the regional government for the entire Alaskan Arctic, also supports responsible development, as well as a strong majority of residents in Kaktovik, a village within the coastal plain.
- Alaska already contains 58 million acres of federal Wilderness, an area larger than the
combined size of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. Alaska accounts for 53 percent of America’s federal Wilderness areas.
- A federal Wilderness designation over the 1002 area would forever place off-limits North America’s most promising onshore oil and gas prospect to development and destroy the agreements made when ANILCA became law.
- If the 1002 area was designated Wilderness, the nation will continue to import billions of barrels of oil from foreign sources. Every barrel of oil not developed domestically is a barrel of oil imported from abroad, often produced under weaker environmental standards than those enforced in Alaska.
Comment deadline was June 7, 2010