The federal government is issuing its annual request for public input on what land should be available for oil leasing in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
Led by ConocoPhillips, there are a growing number of oil projects in the federally managed chunk of the western North Slope. Roughly 1.6 million acres of the 22-million acre reserve are leased, according to the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the area.
The U.S. Interior Department is re-evaluating the management plan for the reserve, aiming to open up land that’s currently off-limits to oil leasing.
Some of that land is thought to have high oil potential. But environmental groups are worried because the land overlaps with valuable habitat for migratory birds and other species — namely, the area around Teshekpuk Lake.
This year’s oil lease sale for the reserve will be limited to the acreage that is currently available. The Bureau of Land Management is accepting public comments until July 22.
But another federally managed area slated for oil leasing this year is likely to get a lot more attention.
The Trump administration aims to hold the first oil lease sale for land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before the end of 2019.
Alaska has a lot going on right now.
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- An email from Alaska's former first lady sheds new light on the actions that drove Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott from office, suggesting he may have invited a woman into his room, newly released emails show.
- A new Alaska group hopes to overhaul the state's oil and gas tax credit system through a ballot initiative called the Fair Share Act.
- Alaska regulators are considering whether the state should continue replenishing a rural telephone and internet service fund or shut it down.
- Hunters said the proposed Ambler Road would be closed to the public, while conservationists said it would hurt caribou and other wildlife needed by area villages.