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Senate Endorses Call to Clean Up Legacy Wells in Northern Alaska

(JUNEAU) – Today the Alaska Senate unanimously passed House Joint Resolution 29, calling on the federal Bureau of Land Management to fulfill its mission of protecting public land by plugging and remediating more than a hundred exploratory oil wells in northern Alaska. The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage.

“With the Senate’s unanimous support, the Alaska Legislature is now speaking with one voice on this issue,” said Rep. Millett. “This looming environmental disaster will not go away until BLM makes protecting the lands it is responsible for a priority.”

Legacy Wells were drilled between 1944 and 1982 by the federal government in an attempt to locate commercial quantities of oil and natural gas. Only seven of the 137 wells have been plugged and cleaned up by state standards.

The wells pose significant risk to ground water, vegetation, land and sea mammals and fish. The sites are covered with trash that scars the natural beauty of Northern Alaska.

Fines totaling eight billion dollars would be levied if a private petroleum exploration company were responsible for these wells, not to mention the condemnation from the news media, the environmental community and the public.  

The Senate Resources Committee amended the resolution. It now asks the Office of the Governor to inform the rest of the country about this problem through national news outlets and other media channels.

Senator Charlie Huggins, R- Wasilla/Rural Mat Su, carried the resolution today on the senate floor. “BLM clearly has a double standard here,” said Sen. Huggins. “When the agency doesn’t obstruct natural resource development of federal lands in Alaska it rigorously enforces environmental protection laws, but ignores those laws on petroleum wells it is responsible for. All Americans should be outraged by this.”     

Watch Sen. Huggins floor speech on HJR 29 by clicking on this link:

http://www.aksenateminority.com/

Senator Lisa Murkowski grilled BLM Director Robert Abbey last week about the Legacy Wells. Click on the link below to view the video clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLhZS2Ip5oA

The resolution now goes to the House for concurrence with senate amendments to the bill.

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