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Critical Habitat Designation for Polar Bear Will Adversely Impact Alaska Natives, Cause Unnecessary Delays In Development

Federal Government Has Failed to Identify Additional Benefits to Polar Bears

Today's decision to designate more than 187,000 square miles across the North Slope as "critical habitat" for polar bears disproportionately impacts Alaska Natives. The Critical Habitat Designation (CHD) is the wrong tool for conserving polar bears. The polar bears were listed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as "threatened" because of climate change and expected reductions in polar bear numbers that have not yet occurred. But, the CHD does nothing to address climate change, and the USFWS has failed to identify any benefits to polar bears resulting from the Critical Habitat Designation. Through this process, the USFWS is wrongfully burdening the people of the North Slope instead of addressing the issue in an open and transparent manner.

This wrong-minded decision will adversely affect the indigenous people and communities across our region, with the area now set aside larger than the State of California.

"This designation will do nothing to increase the species population, while the burden of the impacts will be felt by the people of the Arctic Slope. This is a quality of life issue for our people" said Tara Sweeney, Vice President of External Affairs for ASRC.

The State of Alaska, along with Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, commissioned an independent economic analysis of the designation and came up with dramatically different conclusions than those reached by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. The independent economic analysis shows the financial burden to the State of Alaska, the North Slope Borough and to ASRC could reach into the billions.

ASRC and the State of Alaska found:

·         Even a one-year delay in production for a relatively small North Slope oil field (190 million recoverable barrels) would equate to a loss of more than $200 million in royalties and tax revenues over 15 years.

·         For a one-year delay in a larger field (700 million recoverable barrels) lost royalties and tax revenue to the State reaches nearly $580 million.

·         Reducing oil production within the Critical Habitat Designation will adversely affect employment within the North Slope Borough and the State of Alaska.

·         A 1% reduction in oil production within the CHD could lead to a loss of more than 200 jobs and nearly $100 million dollars in output statewide.

Facts to consider:

·         Worldwide populations of polar bears have gone from 12,000 in the late '60's, to anywhere between 20 and 25,000 today.

·         Over the past 5 years, an average of 85% of Alaska's revenue - outside of federal and investment income - has come from the oil and gas industry. In 2009 alone, that revenue topped $6 billion.

·         According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the oil and gas industry accounts for more than 60% of the employment, and 70% of the labor income in the North Slope Borough.

·         Almost half of the North Slope oil production comes from an area within the proposed Critical Habitat Designation. That amounted to around 113.4 million barrels last year.

·         The oil and gas industry creates 12% of the private employment in Alaska.

·         Alaska produced 14% of the nation's oil in 2008.

About ASRC
Arctic Slope Regional Corporation is owned by and represents the business interests of the Arctic Slope Iñupiat. Since opening enrollment in 1989 to Alaska Natives born after 1971, the corporation's shareholder base has nearly tripled, growing from the 3,700 original enrollees to around 11,000 today. Corporate headquarters are based in Barrow, Alaska, with administrative and subsidiary offices located in Anchorage and throughout the United States. ASRC, along with its family of companies, is the largest Alaskan-owned company, employing approximately 10,000 people worldwide. The company has four major business segments: petroleum refining and marketing, government technical services, energy services and construction industries.

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