This Feb. 9, 2016, file photo shows ice forming on pipelines built near the Colville-Delta 5 field, or as it’s more commonly known, CD5, drilling site on Alaska’s North Slope. The Trump administration will consider a new management plan and expanded oil drilling for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, an Indiana-size area that former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar characterized as an “iconic place on our Earth.” The Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, it will take public comment through Jan. 21 on four alternatives for the reserve in northern Alaska. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen,File)

This Feb. 9, 2016, file photo shows ice forming on pipelines built near the Colville-Delta 5 field, or as it’s more commonly known, CD5, drilling site on Alaska’s North Slope. The Trump administration will consider a new management plan and expanded oil drilling for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, an Indiana-size area that former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar characterized as an “iconic place on our Earth.” The Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, it will take public comment through Jan. 21 on four alternatives for the reserve in northern Alaska. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen,File)

Agency to consider expanded drilling in reserve

The reserve is home to two caribou herds and provides ecologically significant wetlands.

  • By DAN JOLING Associated Press
  • Thursday, November 21, 2019 10:35pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE — The Trump administration will consider a new management plan and expanded oil drilling for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, an Indiana-size area that former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar characterized as an “iconic place on our Earth.”

The Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday it will take public comment through Jan. 21 on four alternatives for the reserve in northern Alaska.

Two alternatives could allow lease sales on lands previously designated as special conservation areas under the Obama administration.

The goal of a new management plan is increased energy production and greater energy security for the nation, BLM Alaska director Chad Padgett said.

“With advancements in technology and increased knowledge of the area, it was prudent to develop a new plan that provides greater economic development of our resources while still providing protections for important resources and subsistence access,” Padgett said.

The reserve is home to two caribou herds and provides ecologically significant wetlands used for breeding by migratory waterfowl from around the world. Its entire coastline is habitat for threatened polar bears.

In 2013, Salazar signed off on the current plan that split the reserve roughly in half between land for petroleum development and conservation areas.

Kristen Miller, conservation director at Alaska Wilderness League, said the Interior Department spent years working on the plan with tribal and local governments, conservation organizations, the state of Alaska and others.

“Abandoning this science-based, common sense approach in favor of oil and gas interests is recklessly short-sighted and will place at risk local indigenous communities and the region’s diverse wildlife that rely on this vital piece of our nation’s public lands,” she said.

The petroleum reserve was created in 1923 by President Warren Harding as the Naval Petroleum Reserve and set aside as an emergency oil supply for the Navy. The reserve covers 35,625 square miles. Congress in 1976 renamed the reserve and transferred administration to the Interior Department.

The reserve is south of the northernmost U.S. city, Utqiagvik, formerly Barrow.

When the current management plan was put in place, the BLM estimated that lands available for development contained nearly three-fourths of the economically recoverable oil in the reserve.

The 2013 plan expanded a special conservation area around Teshekpuk Lake, which provides habitat for shorebirds and migratory waterfowl, including black brant, Canada geese and greater white-fronted geese.

The plan also created the Peard Bay Special Area, which contains the highest density of spectacled eider nesting areas in Alaska, according to the Alaska Wilderness League.

It enlarged the Utukok River Uplands Special Area, used by the western Arctic caribou herd for calving and relief from summer insects.

The most aggressive alternative considered by the BLM would allow leasing and oil drilling infrastructure within the entire Teshekpuk area and parts of the Utukok River Uplands.


• By Dan Joling, Associated Press


More in News

Trees with fall colors populate the Shqui Tsatnu Creek gully as seen from Fourth Avenue on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai to use $770k in grants to remove hazard trees along Shqui Tsatnu Creek

The money will be used to mitigate hazards caused by dead and dying spruce trees over more than 100 acres of city land

Alaska state Rep. David Eastman, a Wasilla Republican, is shown seated on the House floor on April 29, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)
Alaska judge keeps Oath Keepers lawmaker on November ballot

Judge Jack McKenna on Thursday ordered elections officials to delay certifying the result of that particular race

An image purportedly from the computer screen of a digital media specialist for Gov. Mike Dunleavy shows numerous files and folders of campaign advertising. A complaint filed against the governor, plus other individuals and organizations, claims administrative staff is illegally doing paid campaign work on behalf of the governor. (Screenshot from complaint filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission)
Dunleavy faces more accusations in campaign complaint

Governor calls it “specious and unfounded.”

A recent photo of Anesha "Duffy" Murnane, missing since Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided, Homer Police Department)
A 2019 photo of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, who went missing since Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer. (Photo provided, Homer Police Department)
Calderwood indicted for murder

Indictment charges man accused of killing Anesha “Duffy” Murnane with first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault.

Triumvirate Theatre is seen on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. The building burned in a fire on Feb. 20 of that year. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council gives Triumvirate more time to build theater

The Kenai City Council voted last summer to conditionally donate a 2-acre parcel of city land near Daubenspeck Park and the Kenai Walmart

Leaves fall at the Kenai Senior Center on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Senior Center makes plans for $715,000 endowment

The money comes from the Tamara Diane Cone Testamentary Trust

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
On Thursday morning at what police described as an active crime scene, JPD Officer Austin Thomas and Officer Taylor Davis walk the fielded area which was blocked off by crime scene tape. Multiple tents and a police vehicle sat in the field where the tape surrounded, another police vehicle sat in a dirt parking area.
No arrests made as Juneau death investigation continues

Shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday that a woman’s body was found

Damage from the remnants of typhoon Merbok can be seen in Golovin, Alaska, on Sept. 20, 2022. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has requested a federal disaster declaration for areas in western Alaska affected by the storm. (Photo by Jeremy Cubas/Office of the Governor)
Damage from the remnants of typhoon Merbok can be seen in Golovin, Alaska, on Sept. 20, 2022. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has requested a federal disaster declaration for areas in western Alaska affected by the storm. (Photo by Jeremy Cubas/Office of the Governor)
Repair work begins in some Alaska towns slammed by storm

About 21,000 people living along a 1,000-mile stretch of Alaska’s western coast were affected by the storm

Camille Broussard testifies in support of an advisory planning commission in Nikiski during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly approves advisory planning commission for Nikiski

The commission area as petitioned and approved covers just over 3.5 million acres

Most Read