Read RDC and member comments
Deadline for Comment was Monday, July 11
We need your support once again as we move one step forward in clearing hurdles to exploration in the Chukchi Sea.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM) recently released a new Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the 2008 Chukchi Sea lease sale in which Shell, ConocoPhillips, Statoil and others had purchased leases for oil and gas exploration. In July 2010, the U.S. District Court in Alaska, in response to an appeal against the lease sale, ordered BOEM to rework some technical aspects of the original Environmental Impact Statement for the sale, and the court banned lease related activities in the Chukchi Sea until BOEM prepared a new SEIS to the court’s satisfaction.
The federal agency initially released a draft SEIS in October, but after reviewing public comments on the draft, BOEM chose to add an analysis of a very large oil spill in the Chukchi. The scenario of 2.2 million barrels spilled from a blowout lasting 74 days is considered a theoretical “worst case” for drilling across the large lease sale area. That analysis has now been completed and is included in the new draft SEIS.
A Final SEIS will provide the Secretary of the Interior with sufficient information and analyses to make an informed decision on whether to affirm, modify, or cancel Lease Sale 193. No drilling can take place until the final EIS is issued and Sale 193 is affirmed.
RDC encourages its members to participate in the process by submitting comments. BOEM will accept comments on the SEIS via mail or through the federal eRulemaking Portal up to July 11. A series of public hearings was held to collect comments in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and in the communities nearest to the lease sale area.
Submit comments to:
Comments on Revised Draft SEIS
Lease Sale 193 Chukchi Sea
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement
Alaska OCS Region
3801 Centerpoint Drive, Suite 500
Anchorage, Alaska 99503–5820
Federal Rulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov
Points to consider in your comments:
- Lease Sale 193 should be affirmed as held in 2008. The SEIS provides sufficient information and analysis to support an informed decision affirming Sale 193.
- Rescinding the leases and allowing a de facto moratorium to continue will harm Alaska’s economy and discourage future industry investment, without a corresponding benefit to the environment.
- Sale 193 is critical to Alaska’s future economy and the nation’s long-term energy security.
- The Chukchi OCS is an important future source of U.S. energy supply with up to 29 billion barrels of oil and 209 trillion cubic feet of natural gas potentially in place. The Chukchi Sea is considered the most prospective unexplored offshore basin in the country.
- The goal of Lease Sale 193 was to produce oil from the Alaska OCS and boost domestic production from potential world-class energy deposits. OCS production has the potential to refill the Alaska oil pipeline, which is now operating at one-third of its 1988 peak flow.
- Oil and gas production resulting from Sale 193 will occur under the world’s highest safety and environmental standards. Activities will be governed by stringent lease stipulations. Numerous mitigation measures, including seasonal operating restrictions, will minimize potential impacts, and conflicts avoidance mechanisms will protect subsistence whaling and other harvest activities.
- Industry has committed to unprecedented provisions for prevention and spill response that go above and beyond what is required by law. These provisions, combined with a stringent permitting process, give Alaskans a high level of confidence that exploration and development can occur safely and without harm to polar bears and other species.
- Drilling in the Arctic offers distinct differences than deepwater exploration and development in the Gulf of Mexico. The pressure encountered in deepwater drilling is multiple times greater than in Alaska where wells would be in very shallow water. There are also major differences in well designs, as well as fundamental differences in the geology of the regions. All of these contrasts should lead BOEM to conclude that exploration should move forward in the Chukchi.
- Thirty wells have been drilled in the Beaufort and five in the Chukchi – all without incident. These wells were drilled in the 1980s, utilizing older technology compared to what exists today.
- The North Slope and the offshore are now perhaps the most studied energy basins in America. In the past decade, over 250 studies have been funded in the Arctic, with the majority focused on the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.
- An estimated annual average of 54,700 new jobs would be created and sustained over 50 years by OCS-related development in Alaska. As estimated $63 billion in payroll would be paid to employees in Alaska as a result of OCS development.
- New offshore oil and gas development in Alaska would also generate thousands of new high-paying jobs throughout all 50 states – in manufacturing, computer technology, construction and maintenance. $82 billion in payroll would be paid to employees in the Lower 48.
- Federal, state and local governments would all realize substantial revenue from OCS development, with the base case totaling $193 billion, of which the federal government would collect $167 billion.
- Demand for energy is continuing to rise and the U.S. requires continued development of America’s oil and gas resources as the nation transitions to the new energy sources of the future.
- Given the impact of high energy prices on Americans and their economy, the U.S. has a moral obligation to develop domestic energy sources, both onshore and offshore.
Deadline for Comment was Monday, July 11