ConocoPhillips Pushes to Fast Track New Drilling Without Roadmap or Promised Mitigation
GMT-2 Threatens Sensitive Habitat and Subsistence needs for Native Alaskans
Anchorage, Alaska (July 29, 2016)—ConocoPhillips has submitted an application to develop a second project in America’s Western Arctic. The Greater Mooses Tooth-2 (GMT-2) proposal would include nine miles of new road and pipeline and develop upwards of 75 acres for a proposed oil field. This large-scale development would border an important wildlife area home to a large caribou herd and migratory birds from across the globe. ConocoPhillips wants to fast track this permit within a year, alarming affected communities and conservation organizations who call on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to finish creating its regional mitigation strategy for these projects first.
Earlier this year the BLM granted ConocoPhillips approval to develop a very similar project, Greater Mooses Tooth-1 (GMT-1). In doing so the BLM promised local, predominately Alaska Native communities and other stakeholders one million dollars would be spent to create a new mitigation strategy to offset impacts that could not be avoided or minimized for the destruction of habitat, environmental degradation, and impacts to subsistence resources and activities caused by GMT-1 AND also to “serve as a roadmap for future projects.” Currently, this strategy for GMT-1 is not complete so there is also no “roadmap” for how to minimize the future environmental degradation of GMT-2.
Both local Alaska Native communities and conservation organizations are asking the BLM to delay review for GMT-2 in order to create the promised roadmap for compensatory mitigation. Currently, dozens of stakeholder groups are engaged in the process to create this strategy and depend on the good faith of the agency to make that strategy’s outcome successful for GMT-1 and future projects, especially GMT-2.
“Conoco Phillips wants to fast track development in sensitive bird, fish and Caribou habitat- a region extremely important to the substance needs of Native Alaskans. Yet the company has yet to fulfill its promise to mitigate for impacts from previous development,” said Danielle Murray, Senior Director at the Conservation Lands Foundation. “As steward of these lands, BLM should delay permitting GMT-2 until a plan is in place to ensure Conoco Phillips future development is conducted in the right place and does not violate protections in the region.”
Considering projects in a piecemeal approach makes the overall impacts seem far less substantial than they will be to communities on the ground. Even so, the BLM found that the first oil development will have major impacts on important values of the Western Arctic, including for subsistence resources. Extending even further into the Western Arctic with GMT-2 is likely to result in impacts that would need compensatory mitigation, with a strategy that does not exist.
About The Western Arctic
America’s Western Arctic is one of our last great, wild places. At 23 million acres—or the size of Indiana—the Western Arctic is the country’s largest single parcel of public lands. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Western Arctic is an undiscovered treasure for many Americans. To learn more go to www.WesternArctic.org