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Chamber of Commerce Call to Action ANWR Hearings in Anchorage May 11, 2010 Fairbanks May 13, 2010


Overview:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced it will develop a new Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the 19.5 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

The Service is seeking public comments regarding the refuge and its uses, management and its future.  A public meeting on the planning process will be held in Anchorage on Tuesday May 11 and in Fairbanks on Thursday May 13.

In ANWR, 92 percent of the refuge is permanently closed to development.  However, 1.5 million acres of the refuge's western coastal plain, known as the "1002 area," were excluded from Wilderness designation under the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act

(ANILCA).  In 1987, after six years of environmental, geologic, and economic study required by ANILCA, the Department of the Interior recommended that the 1002 area be opened to responsible oil and gas development.  An act of Congress is required for the 1002 area to be opened, and in 1995, Congress voted to open the coastal plain to exploration.  Unfortunately,

President Clinton vetoed the measure.

The 1002 area on the coastal plain of ANWR, which accounts for only eight percent of the refuge, is estimated to contain upwards of 16 billion barrels of oil and 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  Responsible development can and does occur in similar areas presently on the North Slope of Alaska.  Today, Americans overwhelmingly support new oil and gas exploration and development on our soil and ANWR development should be part of our energy equation.

As part of the update to ANWR's CCP, the Service will conduct a review of the refuge lands to determine if additional acreage should be designated as federal Wilderness.  The Record of

Decision from this planning process could recommend the designation of the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain as Wilderness, an action that would permanently close America's most promising onshore oil and gas prospect to future development.  Any proposed Wilderness designations would need to go before Congress for its approval.  Alaska State Chamber members must show their support for keeping this area open to future potential oil and gas exploration and development.

Action requested:

The Alaska State Chamber of Commerce encourages its members to participate in the process by submitting comments and presenting brief testimony at upcoming public hearings urging the Service to manage the 1002 area in a manner, which preserves the option of responsible oil and gas development in the future, and opposing new Wilderness designations in ANWR.  It is vital that the Service and the Obama Administration hear from Alaskans about how critical ANWR's coastal plain is to Alaska's future economy and the nation's energy security.  Those who want the 1002 area classified as Wilderness status for the refuge will likely turn out in force at public hearings and can be expected to generate heavy write-in and email campaigns.

Public Meetings:

Anchorage, May 11: US Fish & Wildlife Service Regional Office, 1011 E. Tudor Road

Information & poster session: 3 pm to 9 pm in the atrium

Public comments: 4 pm to 6 pm, and again 7 pm to 9 pm in the Gordon Watson Conference Room


Fairbanks, May 13, 3-8:30 pm, Morris Thompson Cultural Center, 101 Dunkel Street


ACTION NEEDED

You may be aware that at recent hearings on this issue in Washington D. C. Alaskan's interests and voices were drowned out due to the volume of people testifying in favor of locking up the balance of ANWR as Wilderness.  We believe that a concerted effort must be undertaken to encourage supporters (especially local citizens) to attend and speak at the  hearing in Anchorage on May 11 and in Fairbanks on May 13.

We clearly need a strong response at these hearings to ensure that the Administration knows that Alaskans do not support locking up ANWR as wilderness.  Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

With that in mind, we continue to encourage all interested parties to participate in the upcoming field hearings on the proposed.  We need as many speakers to testify as possible and ask that you reach out to your supporters to find additional speakers.

Below are materials prepared by the Resource Development Council for you to use in both your testimony and in writing letters.

Comment Deadline is Monday, June 7, 2010

How to comment:
Online Submittal:
http://arctic.fws.gov/ccp.htm
Email: ArcticRefugeCCP@fws.gov
Fax: 907-456-0428
Mail:
Sharon Seim, Planning Team Leader
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
101 12th Avenue, Room 236
Fairbanks, AK 99701

Points to consider in your comments or verbal testimony:

· Congress excluded the "1002 area" from ANWR's large Wilderness block in a
compromise struck under ANILCA. The compromise doubled the size of the
Arctic Refuge and designated 8 million acres Wilderness. Congress also
mandated a study of the 1002 area's environment and petroleum resources.
In 1987, the Department of the Interior concluded oil development would
have minimal impact on wildlife and recommended Congress open the coastal
plain to development.

· Upwards of 16 billion barrels of oil and 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are
estimated to lie within the 1002 area of ANWR.

· Responsible oil and gas development of the 1002 area of ANWR would provide
a safe and secure source of energy to the nation, create hundreds of
thousands of jobs throughout the country, and refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline
System, which is operating at one-third its original capacity.

· With advances in technology, it is possible to develop the coastal plain's
energy reserves while directly utilizing very little (potentially only 2,000
acres) of the 1.5 million acres in the 1002 area. Such development would
allow access to energy Americans need without any significant disturbance to
wildlife.

· Wildlife populations have all remained stable or grown over the 35-year

period of oil
development on the North Slope. For example, the Central Arctic caribou
herd at Prudhoe Bay has grown from under 5,000 animals in the 1970s to
more then 66,000 animals today, an indication that wildlife and development
can coexist.
· The 1002 area of ANWR must continue to be excluded from Wilderness
designation.

· There is no need for additional Wilderness designations in ANWR, given 92
percent of the refuge is already closed to development.

· Alaskans strongly oppose a Wilderness designation on ANWR's coastal plain.
In fact, 78 percent of Alaskans support oil exploration on the in the 1002
area. Every Alaskan Governor and every legislature and elected
congressional representative and senator from Alaska have supported
responsible development. The North Slope Borough, the regional government
for the entire Alaskan Arctic, also supports responsible development, as well
as a strong majority of residents in Kaktovik, a village within the coastal
plain.

· Alaska already contains 58 million acres of federal Wilderness, an area larger
than the combined size of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island,
Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. Alaska accounts for 53 percent
of America's federal Wilderness areas.

· A federal Wilderness designation over the 1002 area would forever place offlimits
North America's most promising onshore oil and gas prospect to
development and destroy the agreements made when ANILCA became law.

· If the 1002 area was designated Wilderness, the nation will continue to
import billions of barrels of oil from foreign sources. Every barrel of oil not
developed domestically is a barrel of oil imported from abroad, often
produced under weaker environmental standards than those enforced in
Alaska.

Comment Deadline is Monday, June 7, 2010

Add your comment:
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