Proposed Legislation Nullifies Balanced Approach in Western Arctic
Today, the House Natural Resources Committee held a legislative hearing on H.R. 1964, the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska Access Act, introduced by Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA). The bill would nullify the Obama administration’s recently finalized management plan for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (Reserve), our nation’s largest unit of public lands.
The existing plan protects the habitat for two caribou herds, millions of migratory birds and waterfowl, threatened polar bears, walrus, wolves, wolverine, grizzly bears, seals and beluga whales, among many others. Congress has long recognized the Reserve’s remarkable environmental and social values and directed the Secretary of Interior to balance oil and gas drilling with the protection of the Reserve’s Special Areas. H.R. 1964 would directly contradict this long history of the congressionally recognized need for balanced management and effectively allow for unchecked oil and gas drilling.
Simply put, this bill seeks to bring risky unsafe drilling to the Reserve and nullifies a balanced approach to managing one of our most spectacular landscapes. Congress should reject this legislation and support the common sense approach enacted in the Obama administration’s recently finalized plan.
As future development is considered in the Reserve, there are important issues of national and local interest regarding where and how any such development is undertaken. The Obama Administration is to be commended for adopting a very fair and balanced approach to resource development and the protection of the Reserve’s Special Areas. Rep. Hastings’ legislation destroys this balance and threatens the values congress and past administrations, both Republican and Democrat, have supported.