Interior releases final EIS for ANWR coastal plain leasing program

The US Department of the Interior released a final environmental impact statement on Sept. 12 for oil and gas lease sales on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain that was authorized under Section 2001 of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act.

The US Department of the Interior released a final environmental impact statement on Sept. 12 for oil and gas lease sales on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain that was authorized under Section 2001 of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act.

The law directed the US Interior Secretary to establish two area-wide leasing sales, not less than 400,000 acres each, along the coastal plain through the US Bureau of Land Management. It also authorized up to 2,000 acres, or 0.01% of ANWR’s 19.3 million acres, for surface facilities.

“After rigorous review, robust public comment, and a consideration of a range of alternatives, today’s announcement is a big step to carry out the clear mandate we received from Congress to develop and implement a leasing program for the coastal plain, a program the people of Alaska have been seeking for over 40 years,” Interior Sec. David L. Bernhardt said.

More than 70 employees (BLM, contract, other federal agencies, and the state of Alaska) and at least 13,000 labor hours were dedicated to developing the EIS, DOI said. An integral part of the analysis included staff from the US Fish and Wildlife Service who were instrumental in developing the range of alternatives contained in the EIS as well as the protective mitigation measures. The EIS includes protections for species native to the area and any migrating species listed as threatened or endangered.

In Washington, Erik Milito, the American Petroleum Institute’s vice-president of upstream and industry operations, noted that the coastal plain is a small part of ANWR that has been identified for oil and gas exploration.

“The potential for safe and environmentally responsible energy development in this area is incredibly large and a key part of a long-term vision for US energy security,” he said. “Responsible access to the Arctic region is in our national security interest, with other nations like Russia, Canada, and Norway already actively exploring their Arctic areas.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@endeavorb2b.com.

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