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Millett to Testify to U.S. Senate Energy Committee on Neglected BLM North Slope Legacy Oil and Gas Wells


Monday, July 9, 2012, Anchorage, Alaska – Alaska Rep. Charisse Millett will testify before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this Thursday to shed more light on the lingering problem of the unplugged and environmentally harmful exploratory oil and gas wells drilled by the federal government within the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska.

“It’s shocking, first off, that the wells have been shoved from the governments’ conscience,” Millett said. “We’ve asked, legislatively, through a resolution that passed unanimously, for the federal government to do its job and clean up and shut in its own wells properly.  I’m grateful to the Committee for this chance and to Senator (Lisa) Murkowski for helping to get this issue before Congress.”

Millett sponsored House Joint Resolution 29 during the past legislative session, asking the BLM to plug the wells properly and reclaim the lands as soon as possible. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Geological Survey drilled 136 wells in Northern Alaska over the span of five decades, beginning in the mid-1940s, which are now abandoned. Only nine have been properly plugged and reclaimed by the BLM.

“Our state has adopted strict environmental regulations – holding industry to a higher standard than any other regime. The federal government needs to adhere to those standards and appropriate the money and workers to solve this huge and ongoing environmental crime,” Millett said. “If the mess in NPR-A was perpetrated by a private company you can bet the federal government and environmental NGO’s would be running to court as fast as they could.”

Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission Commissioner Cathy Foerster will join Millett at the hearing. Officials from the BLM and Dept. of the Interior will testify on behalf of the federal government. Testimony will be limited to five minutes, with all presenters testifying, before proceeding to a general question-and-answer session with committee members.

For more information, and to watch the hearing live online, go to http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/live-webcast.

Images from the latest trip to survey the derelict wells, along with a PowerPoint and prior report, can be found at http://video.housemajority.org/index.php?dir=BLM+Legacy+Wells%2F.

“The images are truly shocking,” Millett said. “The federal government should be ashamed. Oil seeping onto marshland and tundra, greenhouse gases venting into the air, missing wells, endangerment to wildlife, drinking water and potential harm to the residents that live near these wells; it’s all so very troubling and shocking. Hopefully our testimony will lead to action and a plan for remediation.”

WHO:              Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage

                        Commissioner Cathy Foerster, AK Oil & Gas Conservation Commission

WHAT:            U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

                        Hearing on Oil Well Remediation in NPR-A

WHEN:           Thursday, July 12, 2012 – 9:30 a.m. EDT (5:30 a.m. AKDT)

WHERE:         Dirksen Senate Office Building – SD 366

                        Washington, D.C.

Livestream:  http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/live-webcast.

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