First Virtual Public Meetings Held for Alaska Proposed Oil and Gas Development

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – In order to minimize the risk of transmission during the current COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to inform local communities of potential actions that may affect them, the BLM worked within national, state, and local health guidance to provide virtual presentations on the Supplement to the Willow Master Development Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

“In the spirit of service to the public, it is crucial that we fulfill our statutory and regulatory responsibilities during this difficult time to provide for our future economic stability when Americans do return to work,” said William Perry Pendley, Deputy Director, Policy and Programs, exercising Authority of the Director.

Using virtual meeting technology allows for communities to attend meetings at their convenience without concerns for health, weather or logistical costs, creating a more efficient way to provide information and receive feedback with lower costs to the American taxpayer.  The eight public meetings garnered more than 300 unique attendees with more than 2,000 live-streaming views.  Prior in-person public meetings for the Willow Project were attended by approximately 250 people in six Alaskan communities, including Anchorage and Fairbanks. 

“We are able to use the same technology that is being used nationwide for a variety of business practices to provide information and receive great feedback from more communities in Alaska than we have ever reached before,” said BLM Alaska State Director Chad Padgett. “The public is able to watch our presentation over multiple platforms and our public is able to actively participate in the virtual meetings either by computer or telephone and it is a step forward in becoming more open and more transparent.”

The Bureau of Land Management published a Federal Register notice March 20 announcing the availability of a Supplement to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc.’s (CPAI) proposed Willow Master Development Plan based on changes made by the company in response to multiple stakeholder concerns and public comments on last year’s Draft EIS.

The announcement began a 45-day public comment period ending May 4, 2020. The supplement to the Draft EIS is available for review at www.blm.gov/alaska/willowEIS

CPAI’s updated proposal contains design adjustments for many project components of the original proposal, although the supplement to the draft analysis primarily addresses a revision that removes construction of a module transfer island previously analyzed in Alternative B of the Draft EIS.

The company’s new proposal replaces construction of the island with a plan to transport modules via sealift barge to an existing dock at Oliktok Point, Alaska, for ice road transport across the Colville River near Ocean Point. It also adds construction of a freshwater reservoir and up to three boats ramps to support subsistence activities.

The Supplement to the Draft EIS was developed with information provided by the BLM, cooperating agencies, and various stakeholders.

Find a link to this and all current BLM Alaska projects, and learn how to make a comment in 3 Easy Steps at www.blm.gov/alaska/comment123.

This year, we invite everyone to reimagine your public lands as we celebrate 75 years of the BLM’s stewardship and service to the American people. The BLM manages approximately 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. 

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BLM Alaska

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Lesli Ellis-wouters
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