Senator proposes extending RCAC concept to the Arctic

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, July 30 -- US Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alas.) proposed extending the Regional Citizens Advisory Council concept to the Arctic as an alternative to continued legal challenges of offshore oil and gas activities in northern Alaska. Similar groups have operated successfully around Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet since the 1980 Exxon Valdez crude oil spill, he told a US Senate committee on July 27.

“Rather than lawyers and judges making decisions about Alaska resource development, I think Alaskans should be involved in the process from Day 1,” Begich told the Senate’s Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

But Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) said he opposed the idea when he heard that the committee adopted the proposal and three more by Begich as an amendment to S. 3597, the Securing Health for Ocean Resources and Environment (SHORE) Act. The bill was prompted by the Apr. 20 Macondo well blowout, rig explosion, and subsequent oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico. The Arctic provisions were based on legislation Begich originally introduced in 2009 which he expanded earlier this summer, he said following the hearing.

Begich advanced his proposal for an Arctic RCAC less than a week after a federal district judge in Anchorage ruled that the US Department of the Interior agency which was then known as the US Minerals Management Service did not fully analyze the environmental impact before awarding Shell Offshore Inc. tracts in the Chukchi Sea in February 2008.

Judge Ralph Beistline halted activity on the leases, where Shell planned to drill its first exploratory wells later this year, in a July 22 order responding to a lawsuit by 12 environmental organizations and government and Alaska native groups from Point Hope, Alas. He said that MMS analyzed development of only the first 1 billion bbl despite acknowledging that the amount was the minimum amount of potential production there, according to an Associated Press report. It said that Beistline also ruled that MMS did not determine whether information which it said was missing before the sale was relevant or essential, or whether the cost of obtaining it was exorbitant.

Council’s makeup
Begich said that he drafted his Arctic RCAC proposal in consultation with Arctic region residents. The council, which would be funded by the oil industry, would include seven members representing local government, economic development, and subsistence interests, he indicated. There also would be exofficio members from state and federal regulatory agencies, the senator said.

“No one has been more outspoken in advocating for responsible domestic oil and gas development in the US Senate than I have,” he maintained. “Exercising leadership to achieve responsible development rather than filing lawsuits will pay long-term dividends for Alaskans.”

Parnell said Begich and his staff did not consult with the governor and his administration as they prepared their proposal, and said that it simply would create another layer of bureaucracy for oil and gas producers. “We already have a rigorous regulatory framework in place for OCS development at the federal, state and local levels,” the governor said. Unlike the Prince William and Cook Inlet RCACs which has members appointed by the governor, the new one’s members would be chosen by the federal government, he added.

The new group’s geographic scope also is unclear, Parnell said, and could include state waters and submerged lands. The absence of a savings clause which clarifies the relationship between state and federal law, which exists for the two other RCACs, also creates the danger that Begich’s proposal might be interpreted as preempting state law, he said.

Begich said that the three other provisions affecting Alaska in the final bill would expand US Coast Guard capacity in the Arctic, boost National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spill research in the region, and improve wildlife restoration and ocean data gathering efforts.

“The SHORE Act takes a big step forward in the ability of federal and private entities to prevent and respond to oil spills,” he said. “It also finally recognizes the steps we need to take now in the Arctic to ensure responsible oil and gas development off Alaska’s northern coast, including increased citizen participation early in the development process to help avoid the endless lawsuits that have halted Arctic development in recent years.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

WAFWA: Aerial survey finds lesser prairie chicken population grew

07/06/2015 A recent range-wide aerial survey found the lesser prairie chicken population rose 25% from 2014 to 2015, the Western Association of Fish & Wil...

Buru awarded onshore Canning licenses

07/06/2015 Buru Energy Ltd., Perth, and Mitsubish Corp. have been granted two production licenses for Ungani oil field in the onshore Canning basin of Western...

Macondo settlement seen ‘positive’ for BP

07/06/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc.’s recent agreement to settle federal and state claims related to the 2010 Macondo blowout and spill improves t...

Court to EPA: Costs matter

07/06/2015 Oil and gas groups did not respond immediately when the US Supreme Court ruled on June 29 that the US Environmental Protection Agency acted unreaso...

Innovation addresses US environmental regulations; more needed

07/06/2015 Technology spawned the recent boom in US oil and gas production which in turn led to new regulations that keep the environment and people safe.

Earth model assists Permian asset valuation

07/06/2015 Laredo Petroleum Inc.'s Permian-Garden City asset is an unconventional resource play with more than four potential stacked zones covering a 1,700 s...

China's Yanchi area, western Ordos basin derived from mixed source

07/06/2015 The Yanchi area lies in the west of China's Ordos basin and to the west of the giant Sulige gas field, site of recent breakthroughs in Lower Permia...

Newfoundland, Labrador prepare for deepwater exploration

07/06/2015 Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board's (C-NLOPB) most recent call for bids for the Eastern Newfoundland Region is coming to a ...

Poor BIA management has hindered tribal energy development, GAO says

07/06/2015 The US Bureau of Indian Affairs does not have data it needs to verify ownership of some Indian oil and gas resources, easily identify resources ava...
White Papers

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


Driving Growth and Efficiency with Deep Insights into Operational Data

When Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Capitalizing on today’s momentum in Oil & Gas requires operational excellence based on a clear view of what your business data is telling you. Which is why nearly half* of oil and gas companies have deployed SAP HANA or have it on their roadmap.

Join SAP and Red Hat to learn more about using data to drive process improvements and identify new opportunities with the SAP HANA platform running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This webinar will also show how your choice of infrastructure impacts the performance of core business applications and your ability to achieve data-driven insights quickly and reliably.

*48% use SAP, http://go.sap.com/solution/industry/oil-gas.html

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST


Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected