Comment letter on Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation’s Proposed Marsh Creek Seismic Exploration


November 6, 2020

Sarah LaMarr
U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Via email to: [email protected]

Re: Comments on Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation’s Proposed Marsh Creek Seismic Exploration

Dear Ms. LaMarr:

The Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc. (RDC) is writing in support of Kaktovik Iñupiat
Corporation’s (KIC) Proposed Marsh Creek Seismic Exploration program on the eastside of the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Coastal Plain (“Coastal Plain”).

RDC is a statewide trade association comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s fishing,
forestry, mining, oil and gas, and tourism industries. RDC’s membership includes Alaska Native
corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. RDC’s purpose is to
encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through
the responsible development of our natural resources.

RDC strongly supports KIC’s proposed seismic exploration program. In the past, RDC has consistently
supported opening the “1002 Area” of the Coastal Plain to oil and gas development. The Coastal Plain is
considered America’s best onshore prospect for conventional oil and gas discoveries.

Alaska depends on the responsible development of its natural resources to expand and support its
economy. Article VIII of our state constitution mandates that we develop our resources to the maximum
benefit for all Alaskans. In fact, it wasn’t until the discovery of oil in the 1950s that led Congress to finally
vote in favor of Alaska’s statehood. Through the discovery of oil, Congress realized Alaska could have a
healthy economy through the development of its natural resources. Alaska’s North Slope has now
produced more than 18 billion barrels of oil since the discovery of the Prudhoe Bay oil field. Oil
production has been the economic engine of growth in Alaska.

In 1980, Congress identified the 1002 Area for its potential oil and gas resources. A 1987 Department of
the Interior report fulfilling requirements under the 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.

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 independence. This is a valuable resource to Alaska
and our nation.

Further, Alaska’s economic lifeline, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), is now running at only one- quarter capacity. New oil production from the Coastal Plain has the potential to increase throughput in TAPS, a vital component of American energy infrastructure. Were oil production occurring today on the Coastal Plain, TAPS potentially could be operating at two-thirds capacity, reducing Alaska’s fiscal budget deficit and sustaining public services for Alaskans.

Alaskans statewide have strongly supported oil and gas exploration and development on the Coastal Plain. In fact, polling has consistently shown 65 to 70-plus percent of Alaskans support development of energy resources beneath the 1002 Area. Local residents and the Iñupiaq people who actually live adjacent to the 1002 Area also support development. Development of Native-owned lands on the non-Wilderness Coastal Plain would provide significant economic benefits to Alaska Natives on the North Slope as well as throughout the state through family-wage jobs, direct payment of royalties, and revenue sharing among the Alaska Native corporations and their shareholders.

Billions of barrels of oil have been produced on the North Slope without causing any significant harm to the environment. Responsible oil and gas development in the small fraction of the Coastal Plain proposed for leasing will help ensure America’s energy security for decades and allow Alaska – and our nation as a whole – to realize the benefits that come from expanding energy production. In addition to the many public services funded across Alaska by revenues derived from oil production, oil exploration, development and production generates thousands of jobs for Alaskans. In rural areas such as the North Slope, the industry and the jobs it provides has generated a stable economy and has improved quality of living. Jobs enable self-sufficiency and provides a means to support a family. This is a major, personal direct benefit of oil and gas development in Alaska with the 1002 Area being no exception.

KIC’s proposed exploration program will provide up to date seismic data to help identify the valuable oil and gas reserves on the Coastal Plan. This information will be timely with today’s technology. This information will help inform industry decisions related to the leasing and development of the Coastal Plain. In addition, KIC has proposed a robust program that includes numerous measures to protect the environment, wildlife, and subsistence resources on the Coastal Plain.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment in support of KIC’s proposed exploration program. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions on these comments.