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MMS Awards $2.15 million to Alaska

Grant to Study and Monitor Water Quality in the Chukchi Sea


ANCHORAGE – Over two million dollars, originally derived from offshore oil and gas revenues, will return to Alaska through the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) and be invested in a state program that monitors water quality off the North Slope.

The State of Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will use the $2.15 million grant to expand the Alaska Monitoring and Assessment Program. This program uses water-sampling techniques to estimate and monitor water quality status based on a wide range of stressors (chemical contaminants, water quality parameters and physical changes such as temperature and salinity) and indicators (microscopic examination of fish tissue, for example). Environmental managers can then use this information to help protect and restore coastal marine environments and mitigate damage to the marine ecosystem.

“Over the years, MMS has funded over $320 million in environmental studies in Alaska and will continue to directly support valuable environmental research,” said MMS Director Liz Birnbaum. “The state of Alaska’s effort to study and protect their coastal marine environment will be a welcome addition to the available environmental knowledge base.”

Specifically, the DEC will use the grant to extend the scope of the program, which already covers waters in Alaska’s Southcentral and Southeast regions, to an area in the Chukchi Sea. The region to be studied lies off the stretch of coastline running from Point Hope northeast to Point Barrow.

“The water quality data to be collected will help us establish baseline conditions from which we can evaluate changes over time,” said Lynn Kent, director of the DEC’s Division of Water. “This information is also made available to the public and is useful to others doing research on the marine environment.”

“This type of data collection supports our broader mission to protect water quality, aquatic life and the people who depend upon clean water,” she added.

The CIAP was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Through the program, MMS will provide $250 million in grants annually, from 2007-2010, to six eligible Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas producing states – Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, California, Mississippi, and Texas. The funding to Alaska includes $79.8 million for fiscal years 2007 through 2010.

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