A judge has ruled in favor of environmental groups in their effort to block the Trump administration’s push to re-open large portions of Arctic waters to oil drilling.
The Wednesday night meeting was the only opportunity for Alaskans to comment on the draft proposal in person. But it wasn’t what some participants had hoped for.
In a recent letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, VOICE wrote, “with respect to the Arctic [Outer Continental Shelf] announcement on the [Draft Proposed Program], we feel the concerns of local organizations were ignored and that deeply disturbs us.”
On ANWR and the new offshore plan, the mayor says that communication with the federal government will be key.
The Trump administration has proposed opening almost all Alaska waters to oil and gas leasing, from Southeast to the Bering Strait to the Arctic. That includes areas that have never seen drilling, and it’s raising concerns in Alaska’s coastal communities.
The draft plan includes the Arctic, but also waters where Alaskans haven’t contemplated oil development for many years, if ever.
The federal government is moving forward with its review of Hilcorp’s proposal to drill offshore for oil in the Arctic.
President Barack Obama has designated the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing.
“At first blush it does appear the federal government is creating additional cumbersome regulations that will make it more challenging to entice companies back to the Arctic when oil prices rebound,” said an Alaska Oil and Gas Association representative.
Fairbanks scientist Eugénie Euskirchen says most of her colleagues think offshore drilling could be bad for the Arctic.