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The Travesty Continues: Federal Government Wants to Stick Alaska with Bill for Polluted Oil Well Cleanup

Proposed 2014 DOI Budget Diverts Alaska’s NPR-A Funds for Travesty Wells

Thursday, April 11, 2013, Juneau, Alaska – Representative Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, is calling out the U.S. Department of the Interior for trying to swipe Alaska’s portion of revenues from oil and gas activity in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to pay for the plugging and remediation of travesty (aka legacy) well sites.

“There is no wiggle room here. Those polluted wells are clearly a federal responsibility,” Millett said. “The Department of the Interior finally decides to begin an earnest cleanup effort but proposes paying for it by effectively stealing Alaska’s share of the oil and gas revenue from NPR-A. This is a perfect example of the arrogance and hypocrisy the federal government and this administration have shown towards our state.”  

The diversion is part of the U.S. Interior Department’s proposed FY 2014 budget. Not only does it propose using Alaska’s NPR-A monies under the 50/50 Federal-State revenue sharing arrangement for travesty wells, it also calls for using the same funds to pay for the transfer and conveyance activities of land to the Alaska Native Corporations.

The federal government drilled more than 137 oil and gas exploration wells in NPR-A. Since the drilling program stopped in 1981 fewer than 20 have been properly plugged and cleaned up. The remaining sites leak oil and natural gas and are covered with trash.

Known today as “legacy” wells by the BLM, the Alaska Legislature decided the term was misleading and named them “travesty” wells through the passage of House Joint Resolution 6 last month. The resolution urges BLM to follow its mission statement and protect the reserve through an aggressive well cleanup plan.         

A copy of HJR 6 and a scanned page from the DOI budget with the proposed diversion of funds is attached to this news release.

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