Governor Sean Parnell today announced that the State of Alaska is officially submitting a plan for seismic exploration activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 1002 Area, pursuant to Section 1002(e) of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).
"The 1002 Area of ANWR holds enormous promise for Alaska and for our nation," Governor Parnell said. "Federal law provides clear direction and mandates a number of actions that the Interior Secretary must take upon the submission of a 1002 Area exploration plan. We look forward to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's prompt review and approval of this exploration plan."
On May 18, with support from North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Rex Rock, the State of Alaska submitted a detailed 1002 Area exploration proposal and offered to help finance seismic studies in the 1002 Area. In late June, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell completely rejected the State's proposal and offer of funding support. Therefore, the State is submitting a formal exploration plan and special use permit application for the 1002 Area.
"ANILCA requires the Secretary to take formal action on this exploration plan," said Natural Resource Commissioner Dan Sullivan, noting that the U.S. Department of Interior approved 1002 Area exploration plans in the 1980s and that the law does not contain a sunset provision and therefore is still on the books.
"This 240-page, world-class document meets all the statutory and regulatory requirements for a 1002 Area exploration plan contained within the Code of Federal Regulations and in ANILCA. If an exploration plan meets all of these requirements, the Secretary is required by law to approve it."
The exploration plan and accompanying special permit application builds upon the detailed proposal the State submitted in May. The plan will take advantage of current technology, which will have significantly less environmental impacts than the exploration activities approved and conducted in the 1002 Area during the 1980s.
The 1002 Area is thought to be one of the most prolific regions for undiscovered oil in America. The State seeks to conduct low-impact, three-dimensional surveys across the 1002 Area from 2014 to 2017. This work will only be done during the winter, with very limited impact to tundra, fish and wildlife.
"I am renewing my pledge to seek support from the Alaska Legislature during its 2014 session to fund a 3-D seismic program for the 1002 Area," Governor Parnell said. "If this plan and permit application is promptly reviewed and approved as required by ANILCA, I will request a minimum of $50 million to execute this plan."