Press Release – Bill Would Threaten Balanced Approach in Western Arctic
Eliminates Broadly Supported Protections for Wildlife and Native Subsistence
WASHINGTON, DC (November 20, 2013) – Today, the House of Representatives passed the Federal Lands, Jobs and Energy Security Act of 2013 (H.R. 1965), introduced by Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO). If signed into law, the legislation would nullify protections for the most critical wildlife habitat and native subsistence areas within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (Reserve). The bill abandons the Obama Administration’s balanced plan for the Reserve, which was finalized this year following an extensive two and a half year process that included more than 400,000 public comments.
“Instead of promoting a carelessly single-minded drill-only strategy in the Reserve, Congress should embrace the existing plan that is both broadly supported and appropriately balances protections for wildlife habitat with oil and gas development,” said Ben Greuel, Alaska Program Director for the Conservation Lands Foundation.
The current management plan for the Reserve allows for 72 percent of the recoverable oil in the Reserve to be accessed, leased, and developed while protecting five Special Areas, critical to wildlife and native subsistence, from development. HR 1965 would strip the protection for the Special Areas and expedite drilling through risky shortcuts. Further, it would negate public process and eliminate the American people’s voice in how our largest unit of public land is managed.
Greuel continued, “HR 1965 is not only off-base, but it’s un-needed and redundant as the Bureau of Land Management has put forward lease sales in the Reserve during six of the last seven years, including the 2013 sale that took place just two weeks ago.”
Located in Alaska’s western Arctic and more than 23 million acres in size, the Reserve is our country’s largest single unit of public land and includes habitat for a globally significant populations of wildlife that includes two caribou herds, millions of migratory birds and waterfowl, polar bears, walrus, wolves, wolverine, seals and beluga whales, among many others.