WASHINGTON – Fulfilling Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s promise to jump-start development in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A), the Bureau of Land Management today published a Notice of Intent to begin the development of a new Integrated Activity Plan (IAP) and associated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the area.
The purpose of the IAP and EIS is to develop a new management strategy for the NPR-A consistent with Secretarial Order 3352, which was signed in June 2017 and 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 calls for the review and development of a revised IAP “that strikes an appropriate balance of promoting development while protecting surface resources.”
The action comes after the State of Alaska and the North Slope Borough asked the Department of the Interior to make more investment in 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 the borough seek to balance economic growth, preservation of a healthy environment, and a vibrant traditional subsistence culture.
“Production from Federal leases is being realized 95 years after the then Naval Petroleum Reserve was established,” said Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management Joe Balash. “As development and production increases into the NPR-A and as advances in technologies are discovered for use on the North Slope of Alaska, the Department of the Interior determined it is appropriate to consider a different approach to management of the NPR-A.”
The new IAP and EIS will include: consideration of a range of leasing alternatives that open new areas to leasing; examination of current special area boundaries; and consideration of new or revised lease stipulations and best management practices. The new plan will incorporate the most current information and lay out management goals and objectives that are environmentally responsible, respect traditional uses of the land and maintain access to subsistence resources.
“The planning being initiated today calls for substantial public involvement to include consideration of the State of Alaska’s regional planning efforts for the North Slope,” said Ted A. Murphy, acting BLM Alaska State Director.
Today begins a 45-day public scoping period, which will include public scoping meetings in North Slope communities as well as Anchorage and Fairbanks. Public scoping meeting dates, times and locations will be announced through local media and the BLM website at http://www.blm.gov/alaska.
Formerly known as the Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 4, the NPR-A is now a 22.1 million-acre reserve originally set aside in 1923 as an emergency oil supply for the U.S. Navy because of its future petroleum value. In 1976, administration of the area was transferred to the Department of the Interior, and it was renamed the NPR-A. Oil and gas lease sales started in the 1980s.
Written comments may be submitted at the public scoping meetings or by regular mail to BLM Alaska State Office, Attention – NPR-A IAP/EIS, 222 W. 7th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska 99513. Comments may also be faxed to (907) 271-5479, or submitted online at http://www.blm.gov/alaska/NPR-A-IAP-EIS. Comments must be received before the end of the scoping period to be included in the scoping report.