Draft Analysis for National Petroleum Reserve Plan Available for Public Comment
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — To support increased production of Alaskan energy resources and greater energy security for the nation, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking public input on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a new integrated activity plan (IAP) for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A). The Notice of Availability will publish in the Federal Register on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019.
“With advancements in technology and increased knowledge of the area, it was prudent to develop a new plan that provides greater economic development of our resources while still providing protections for important resources and subsistence access,” said BLM Alaska State Director Chad Padgett. “This is one of several actions we are taking to further expand responsible energy development based on substantial input, and we will continue seeking public input in this phase of the analysis. As part of our commitment to ensure robust public input and Alaska Native stakeholder participation over the holiday season, we are allowing for a 60 day comment period on this draft.”
The BLM initiated the Draft EIS in November 2018 to develop a new management strategy for all BLM-managed public lands in the 23 million-acre NPR-A as directed in Secretary’s Order 3352 (Order), which envisions clean and safe development in the NPR-A while avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth and prevent job creation. The Order responded to requests from the State of Alaska and the North Slope Borough to increase opportunities for infrastructure and to help build capacity to support their aligned goals in light of recently increased activity on Alaska’s North Slope. The State and Borough seek to balance economic growth, preservation of a healthy environment, and a vibrant traditional subsistence culture.
In addition to advances in technology, a 2017 USGS survey calculating a significantly higher estimate of technically recoverable oil required developing a new management strategy for the NPR-A. New information from caribou monitoring reports not available in 2012 also informed this new analysis.
The Draft EIS outlines four alternatives providing a range of options for leasing and development. The Final EIS will be informed by public comments received and identify a preferred alternative that can be a combination of different aspects of the range of alternatives.
The BLM is required to include the status quo as an alternative, “Alternative A,” which maintains the 11.8 million acres for development under the 2013 record of decision. The other alternatives include:
- Alternative B, which decreases the land available for leasing and new infrastructure to 11.4 million acres and designates all special areas as unavailable.
- Alternative C, which increases the land available for leasing and new infrastructure to 17.1 million acres and keeps a core area around Teshekpuk Lake as unavailable.
- Alternative D which increases the land available for leasing and new infrastructure to 18.3 million acres allowing for the entire Teshekpuk Lake special area, as well as parts of the Utukok River Uplands special area, to be available for development.
The EIS identifies new management alternatives that consider different land allocation combinations, opening new areas to leasing, new or revised lease stipulations and best management practices and examining current special area boundaries.
The public will have 60 days to provide comment on the Draft, 15 days more than required due to the holidays, closing on January 21, 2020. Public meetings are scheduled in Anaktuvuk Pass, Anchorage, Atqasuk, Fairbanks, Nuiqsut, Point Lay, Utqiagvik and Wainwright, Alaska, to afford the public an opportunity to provide input on the process. A public hearing on subsistence activities will occur in conjunction with the public meetings in the potentially affected communities of Anaktuvuk Pass, Atqasuk, Nuiqsut, Utqiagvik, Point Lay and Wainwright.
The dates, times and locations of the meetings will be announced in advance through public releases, the BLM Alaska website at http://www.blm.gov/alaska/NPR-A-IAP-EIS , and social media. The BLM may hold additional public meetings in other communities if there is strong community interest.
Those unable to attend one of the meetings are encouraged to read the Draft EIS and make comments via BLM’s project website at http://www.blm.gov/alaska/NPR-A-IAP-EIS, which includes a project area map and frequently asked questions.
Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information, be advised that your entire comment, including your identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you may ask us in your comments to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
Comments on the Draft EIS should be specific to the document itself, referencing sections or pages. Comments can be submitted at any of the public meetings or by the following methods:
- Mail/In person: BLM, Alaska State Office, Attention –NPR-A IAP/ EIS, 222 West 7th Avenue, #13, Anchorage, AK 99513-7504
Formerly known as Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 4, the NPR-A is a vast 23-million-acre area on Alaska's North Slope. In 1923, mindful of the land's conceivable petroleum value, President Harding set aside this area as an emergency oil supply for the U.S. Navy. In 1976, in accordance with the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act, administration of the reserve was transferred to the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and renamed the NPR-A. Oil and gas leasing in the NPR-A is required under the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act of 1976 (42 U.S.C.6501 et seq.), as amended.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.