National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A)
Integrated Activity Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (IAP/EIS)
When was the NPR-A established and why?
President Warren G. Harding established the Naval Petroleum Reserve Number 4 (PET-4) by Executive Order 3797 in 1923 to reserve the lands for oil and gas development for Naval defense purposes. The Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act of 1976 (PL 94-258) transferred jurisdiction of PET-4 from the Navy to the Secretary of the Interior and renamed it the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, commonly abbreviated as NPR-A. The new law, passed in the wake of the OPEC oil embargo and less than a decade after the discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay, directed the Secretary of the Interior to regulate the reserve "in a manner consistent with the total energy needs of the Nation."
Why is the BLM writing another plan for NPR-A?
Since the late 1990s, the BLM has completed plans for the northeastern and northwestern parts of NPR-A. (Go the "Links" page on the left to view past plans.) The new plan will for the first time provide a consistent, comprehensive plan for all of NPR-A. Currently, over 9 million acres of NPR-A have no land use plan. These unplanned lands in the southern part of the Reserve include the calving ground of the largest caribou herd in Alaska, potential Wild and Scenic Rivers, and natural gas, a resource of increasing interest if one of the currently proposed gas pipelines is built. The new plan can consider onshore facilities related to the potentially huge oil and gas resources on federal leases in the Chukchi Sea that lie directly to the west of NPR-A; a pipeline to bring oil and/or gas from the Chukchi Sea leases would necessarily cross the NPR-A to connect with the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and proposed gas pipelines. This plan would also benefit land management by eliminating any confusion in management requirements resulting from inconsistent wording of decisions in previous NPR-A plans and by updating the analysis and protective measures to reflect recent studies, including new research on climate change and polar bears.
Prior to beginning the plan, BLM developed preliminary criteria for developing the proposed actions and alternatives. What are they?
The NOI referred to the following preliminary planning criteria:
- The areas the plan will consider are the lands and waters administered by the BLM within the NPR-A.
- All decisions in the plan will be consistent with the Naval Petroleum Reserve Production Act of 1976, including the requirements to manage the NPR-A consistent with the total energy needs for the Nation and to protect the environmental, fish and wildlife, and historical and scenic values of the NPR-A.
- The existing plans defer oil and gas leasing in approximately 1.57 million acres in northwestern NPR-A and 430,000 acres north and east of Teshekpuk Lake. The lands in northwestern NPR-A are deferred from leasing until 2014 and the lands near Teshekpuk Lake until 2018. The new plan will make management decisions for these areas that will become effective at the expiration of their respective deferral periods.
- Action alternatives will be consistent with requirements for protection of spectacled and Stellar’s eiders described in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2008 Biological Opinion for the northern NPR-A planning areas and any new Biological Opinion received as a part of this planning effort.
- The plan will address oil and gas leasing and will use scoping to identify other management decisions and resources to be addressed.
- The resource protection measures applied to oil and gas authorizations will be as consistent as possible in all areas covered by the plan, recognizing the differing values within the NPR-A.
The BLM will consider subsistence resources and users and minimize adverse impacts to subsistence uses in accordance with Section 810 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA)