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State Seeks to Participate in Appeal of Denied NPR-A Permit

May 3, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska - Governor Sean Parnell today requested that the state be allowed to participate in the administrative appeal by ConocoPhillips of a denied permit in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). The governor supports exploration in the NPR-A to increase Alaskans' prospects for jobs, the nation's chances for economic recovery and domestic energy production.

ConocoPhillips is challenging the decision of a district engineer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denying the company's application for a permit for the CD-5 Alpine Satellite Development, west of the Colville River Delta in NPR-A. The governor filed a request for an invitation to participate in ConocoPhillips' appeal.

At issue is ConocoPhillips' proposal for a vehicle/pipeline bridge across the Nigliq Channel of the Colville River, rather than the Corps' preferred alternative of horizontal directional drilling under the channel. The pipeline/vehicle bridge proposal was strongly supported by the state, the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, the North Slope Borough, Kuukpik Corporation, the Native Village of Nuiqsut, and the City of Nuiqsut. 

The parties expressed concern about the use of horizontal directional drilling, noting the risks of pipeline corrosion, sedimentation, and slugging, among other potential problems associated with a buried pipeline in an area as geo-technically unique and environmentally sensitive as the Nigliq Channel. The state and local entities agreed that a bridge would have fewer potential adverse environmental consequences.

The governor maintains that under the Corps' regulations, the opinions of the state, both as a permitting agency with jurisdiction and as the property owner of the Nigliq Channel, are entitled to deference.

A copy of the state's pleading is available at:
http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell_media/documents/gov_SOArequestforinvite.pdf

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