What others say: Avoid shortcuts to drilling ANWR

The administration of President Donald Trump is moving quickly on lease sales in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge now that the decades-long political obstruction of this necessary development has come to an end.

It’s understandable, even desirable, that the administration wants to move promptly to get the oil out of the ground. It’s in the national interest, and such projects take years upon years even in the best of circumstances.

But ANWR, as is well known, is no ordinary drilling prospect. It has been the catalyst for strong money-grabbing opposition by environmental groups, which essentially portray the coastal plain of the refuge as the last heavenly place on Earth and those who want to develop its oil and natural gas as reckless plunderers.

And that is why the Trump administration should proceed with caution with its accelerated ANWR schedule. This is going to end up in court, so the administration must be able to show it has produced a solid environmental review document.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that the Interior Department has signed a nearly $1.7 million contract with a Colorado-based company to conduct an expedited environmental review of the impact of leasing for oil and gas development in the refuge.

The liberal Center for American Progress obtained documents under the federal Freedom of Information Act that show the Trump administration hopes to issue a notice of lease sales next summer.

“That gives the firm three months to complete a scoping report, which will set the terms of how federal officials will gauge the impact of energy development in the refuge,” the Post story reads. “The report must reflect the input of local tribes and the hundreds of thousands of public comments that have been submitted.”

Many Alaskans, including numerous state leaders, have argued loudly year after year for the opening of a small portion of ANWR to the oil industry. The Daily News-Miner’s editorial position has been staunchly behind development of the refuge’s coastal plain, which in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 was denoted as an area of oil and gas potential.

So why, after last year’s vote in Congress and subsequent bill signing by President Trump, should caution be exercised now?

The head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, Kara Moriarty, said it well in the Post’s story.

“There are some who say it should take 14 years to read all the comments because they don’t want to see a lease sale anyway,” Ms. Moriarty said. “And there are others who think they can get the job done in two months, six months, eight months.”

“We want this to be a thorough process because we know it’s going to be challenged in court,” she said.

Ms. Moriarty is 100 percent correct in saying the environmental review will face a legal challenge. Environmental organizations are surely already preparing for the fight.

And because of that, the administration should make sure it isn’t taking any unnecessary shortcuts that could result in a successful legal challenge that would delay the long-sought goal of bringing ANWR’s oil to market.

—Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, July 22, 2018

More in Opinion

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks during an April 27 news conference at the Alaska State Capitol in which options for a long-range fiscal plan were discussed. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Alaska’s rudderless fiscal ship

The Alaska Permanent Fund dividend Alaskans are set to receive is again… Continue reading

Heidi Drygas, executive director of the 8,000-member Alaska State Employees Association, addresses a rally outside the Alaska State Capitol on Feb. 10, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Let’s stop the ‘Neglect. Panic. Repeat.’ cycle of public service delivery

The payroll section is one of several state agencies in crisis

This photo shows Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner Jim Cockrell. (Courtesy photo / Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)
Strengthening Alaska through service: Join the Alaska State Troopers

The law enforcement positions within the Department of Public Safety fill a critical need within our community

A tabletop voting booth is seen next to a ballot box at the Kenai city clerk’s office on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: Last call to voice your vote!

We will see you at the polls Oct. 3

LaDawn Druce asks Sen. Jesse Bjorkman a question during a town hall event on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Addressing Kenai Peninsula’s education and public safety employee shortage

Many of our best and brightest educators take a hard and close look at the teacher’s retirement system in Alaska early in their careers and are stunned

Deven Mitchell, executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: Providing for generations of Alaskans

As a public endowment, the wealth of the Fund is the responsibility of every resident of the state

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney greet each other outside the chamber at the U.S. Capitol on April 5, 2022. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP file photo)
Opinion: Alaska’s senators and Mitt Romney

When newly elected Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, began his term five years… Continue reading

UAA Provost Denise Runge photographed outside the Administration and Humanities Building.
Opinion: UAA offers affordable and convenient pathways that prepare students for the next step

At UAA, we provide numerous academic programs designed to meet specific workforce needs

A line of voters runs out the door of the Diamond Ridge Voting Precinct at the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Election Day, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, in Homer, Alaska. Chamber Executive Director Brad Anderson said he had never seen the amount of people coming through the polling place. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
How many ways can you vote?

Multiple ballot options available to voters

scales of justice (File photo)
Opinion: The Dubious Dunleavy Deal to use public dollars for personal legal costs

In 2019, these regulation changes were ultimately abandoned without public notice

A 2022 voter information pamphlet rests on a desk in the Peninsula Clarion offices on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Where to find voter pamphlets

Be educated about what you are voting on