Chamber of Commerce Call to Action
ANWR Hearings in Anchorage May 11, 2010
Fairbanks May 13, 2010
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.
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.
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
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.
Posted: May 10, 2010