ANCHORAGE – The comment period for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska Draft Integrated Activity Plan and Environmental Impact Statement ended June 15, 2012. During the comment period, the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska received nearly 400,000 comments from key stakeholders including, tribal and native corporations and other native organizations, government agencies, elected officials, industry and business organizations, conservation organizations and individual citizens.
“This plan is an important step in our efforts to facilitate the development of oil and gas, while protecting multiple surface resources in the Reserve and honoring Native Alaskans’ subsistence rights,” said BLM-Alaska State Director Bud Cribley. “We have conducted a robust and extensive public outreach program to educate the public about the NPR-A, and to gather comments from people who have a stake in its future. We will fully consider this input in developing the preferred alternative for the NPR-A.”
The Draft IAP/EIS proposes four future management strategies for the NPR-A. This plan is the first plan that covers the entire NPR-A, including BLM-managed lands in the southwest area of the NPR-A which were not included in previous plans.
“Key issues that will be addressed in the plan are oil and gas leasing decisions and the protection of surface resources, including protections for caribou and waterfowl and their habitats near Teshekpuk Lake, and habitat for caribou of the Western Arctic Herd in the Utokok River uplands in the southwestern NPR-A,” said Cribley. “The plan will also consider and establish ground rules for onshore infrastructure, including the potential for a pipeline across the NPR-A.”
As part of the outreach for the NPR-A plan, the BLM accepted comments online, by mail, fax and in person. Also, BLM Field and State Office staff hosted a total of eight public meetings over two weeks from May 14, 2012, through May 24, 2012, in North Slope villages and other locations. The comment period was initially set to end June 1, but the BLM extended the comment period by two weeks to give people more time to provide comments. The BLM also scheduled an additional public meeting in Point Lay to provide an opportunity to comment for Point Lay residents who were engaged in subsistence whaling during the first public meeting in that community. The comments received will be considered in preparation of the Final EIS/IAP, which is expected to be completed in November 2012.
“In addition to our efforts to solicit comments on the plan, we tried some creative approaches to educate the public about the significance of the NPR-A, from a resource perspective,” said Cribley. “For example, we hosted a special series of lectures at the BLM-Alaska Campbell Creek Science Center that highlighted the people, the land and the resources found within the NPR-A. We worked with Alaska Public Radio to record and broadcast the lectures and to make them available online.”
BLM-Alaska Arctic Field Office Archaeologist Stacy McIntosh’s talk about “People, Land, & Resources of the NPR-A” is available on the Alaska Public Radio website and can be accessed at: www.blm.gov/ak/newsroom. Another segment in the series, Arctic Field Office Archaeologist Mike Kunz’s talk on the “Prehistory of the NPR-A,” will be available at a later date.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, recreational and other activities on BLM-managed land contributed more than $130 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 600,000 American jobs. The Bureau is also one of a handful of agencies that collects more revenue than it spends. In FY 2012, nearly $5.7 billion will be generated on lands managed by the BLM, which operates on a $1.1 billion budget. The BLM's multiple-use mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.