Resource Development Council

RDC Action Alert:
Draft IAP/EIS for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska

View RDC's Testimony

Deadline for Comment is extended to June 15, 2012

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released the Draft Integrated Activity Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (IAP/EIS) for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). The five volume document, available online at proposes several alternative future management strategies for the 23-million acres of federal lands in the NPR-A on Alaska’s North Slope. The public comment period will run through June 15.

The draft plan is the first that covers the entire NPR-A, including BLM-managed lands in the southwest area of the reserve which were not included in previous plans. Decisions to be made as part of this plan include oil and gas leasing availability, surface protections, Wild and Scenic River recommendations, and Special Area designations. The NPR-A IAP/EIS presents four alternative approaches for the planning effort:

  • Alternative A is the No Action Alternative and reflects current management of NPR-A established in the 2004 and 2008 Records of Decision for the Northwest and Northeast NPR-A, respectively, and the Colville River Special Area Management Plan of 2008.
  • Alternative B describes future management that emphasizes the protection of the surface resources of NPR-A. This alternative would close approximately 52 percent of the petroleum reserve to exploration and development. There would be substantial increases in areas designated as Special Areas, designation of extensive areas that would be unavailable for leasing around Teshekpuk Lake, in coastal bays and lagoons, and caribou habitat and primitive recreation values in the southwestern part of the Reserve, and recommendation for designation of twelve Wild and Scenic Rivers.
  • Alternative C provides for smaller additions to Special Areas than Alternative B, withholds from leasing the most remote part of NPR-A that has the greatest potential for providing a primitive recreation experience, provides for leasing with extensive surface protection stipulations near Teshekpuk Lake, and recommends three rivers for designation as Wild and Scenic Rivers. Opportunity to lease oil and gas resources in three-quarters of the reserve would be allowed under Alternative C.
  • Alternative D would allow BLM to offer all of the NPR-A for oil and gas leasing, while protecting surface values with a collection of protection measures.

Action requested:
Please testify at an upcoming public hearing and/or submit written comments encouraging BLM to open all of NPR-A’s subsurface to oil and gas leasing, with balanced surface protections which do not preclude development and transportation of energy resources. There are five ways to submit comments:

Deadline for Comment is extended to June 15, 2012

Submit comments to:
Online Submittal:

Mail to:
NPR-A IAP/EIS Comments
AECOM Project Office
1835 South Bragaw Street, Suite 490
Anchorage, AK 99508

Fax to: (866) 611-9420 or (907) 268-4224

Hand-deliver to AECOM at their Anchorage address listed above or to BLM’s Public Information Center in the Federal Building, 222 W. 7th Ave., Anchorage.

Public Meetings:
Barrow - May 21, Inupiat Heritage Center Multi-Purpose Room
Fairbanks - May 23, Noel Wein Library
Anchorage - May 24, Campbell Creek Science Center

Points to consider in your comments:

  • The BLM should adopt Alternative D as its Preferred Alternative, opening all of NPR-A’s subsurface to oil and gas leasing, with mitigation measures to protect surface resources, but which do not block development of onshore energy deposits or infrastructure necessary to transport oil and gas from the Chukchi Sea to TAPS.
  • Industry’s track record on the North Slope and the technological advances of the past decade, which have greatly reduced the development footprint, support full leasing in NPR-A.
  • New oil and gas production from NPR-A and connecting Chukchi production to TAPS via the petroleum reserve would revitalize North Slope production, which has fallen under 600,000 barrels per day, compared to a peak of over 2 million barrels per day.
  • With an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in place, Alaska Outer Continental Shelf itself could produce an average of 700,000 barrels per day for 40 years. This could cut the nation’s trade deficit by $25 billion annually, generate over $193 billion in government revenue, create an annual average of 55,000 new jobs, and $145 billion in new payroll.
  • The IAP/EIS must include clear and specific provisions for onshore infrastructure to transport future offshore oil and gas resources across NPR-A. Surface protection measures, Special Area designations, and other restrictions must not prevent the transport of Chukchi oil and gas resources to market.
  • The alternatives offered in the IAP/EIS appear to refocus land management in NPR-A from multiple use to conservation, which is inconsistent with the primary purpose of the petroleum reserve. This is unacceptable for an area intended for oil and gas development.
  • Enlargement of Special Areas, as described in Alternative B, could significantly impact onshore development and infrastructure necessary to transport offshore oil and gas resources to market in an economic and efficient manner.
  • Given the technological advances of the mining industry in the Arctic and sub-Arctic and the growing need for strategic minerals, all of NPR-A should be open to mineral entry, as well as industrial mineral and coal leasing. The Department of the Interior should make this recommendation to Congress.
  • Energy and mineral development in NPR-A would benefit the economy by creating increased revenues and employment, while enhancing national security.
  • BLM should refrain from designating highly-restrictive conservation units in NPR-A, given the nation’s growing need for energy and minerals. Alaska already has an overwhelming majority of the nation’s public lands closed to development.

Deadline for Comment is extended to June 15, 2012

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