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Stop oil and gas development from harming Alaska’s wildlife
Spotted Seal (c) Jay Verhoef (NOAA)
Alaska’s wildlife is in jeopardy. A newly proposed development by oil giant ConocoPhilips would build a huge oil field with hundreds of oil wells that would impact critical polar bear habitat and protected lands in the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released their Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the development, but they’re rushing through the process to open up leasing as quickly as possible, with little regard for the harm this development could bring to local wildlife.
Tell the BLM: Don’t turn a blind eye to wildlife!
Dear BLM State Director Chad Padgett,
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I am writing to you with significant concerns about BLM’s Willow Master Development Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) regarding the proposed Willow oil and gas development located in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPR-A). In particular, I am concerned about the Willow development’s proposed size and proximity to some of the most valuable wildlife habitat in America’s Arctic found adjacent in the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area and Arctic Ocean, and its impacts to polar bear critical habitat. I am also concerned that the analyses and decision-making around this very significant development is happening virtually in tandem with BLM revising its overall management plan for the NPR-A, the Integrated Activity Plan, where the size and protections of established Special Areas may be changed.
ConocoPhillips has proposed developing a major industrialized zone, including up to five drill sites of up to 50 wells each, a central processing facility, an operations center pad, miles of gravel and ice roads, pipelines (including under the Colville River), a gravel mine just west of the community of Nuiqsut, and a gravel island in Harrison Bay. This human-made, modular island just off-shore and north-east of the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area would impact polar bear critical habitat and likely would also impact to threatened ice seals and whales. These species are already experiencing significant effects from climate change and other oil and gas activities in the Alaskan Arctic. The DEIS understates impacts to polar bears and seals, and completely omits impacts to cetaceans including listed bowhead and beluga whales.
I urge BLM to slow this analysis process down to make sure that the agency is getting sufficient public input; properly analyzing issues raised by a cross-section of stakeholders; and especially sufficiently analyzing impacts to imperiled polar bears, ice seals, whales and other wildlife.