On Wednesday, February 13, 2019, I delivered public testimony on behalf of CFACT in support of proposed rules that would open up ANWR (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) to oil and gas development.CFACT delivers public testimony supporting ANWR development 1

The public hearing was held by the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of the Interior. Specifically, the hearing was accepting comments on a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), detailing the leasing of the land in ANWR for eventual oil and gas development. This is in accordance with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 signed into law by President Trump, which finally authorized drilling in the area.

While there were plenty of radical greens opposing the EIS, Glen Solomon, a resident of the village of CFACT delivers public testimony supporting ANWR development 2Kaktovik in ANWR, provided testimony in support of oil and gas development on behalf of his community. Turning to the environmental activists, he chided them for opposing measures that would help his community climb out of poverty. At one point he pleaded with them to stop their “Eco-Colonialism.”

CFACT supports the rights of the indigenous communities that are clamoring for opportunity via energy production from ANWR.

You can read the full comments I provided here:

My name is Adam Houser with CFACT, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. CFACT is a non-profit, public educational organization that works on environmental and development issues. We have been around since 1985 and our organization has over 100,000 citizen supporters, a collegiate network on over 50 college campuses, and a scientific and academic advisory board of over 50 leading experts. We are submitting these comments in support of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement that allows for the lease-sale of land in ANWR for oil and gas activities.

Alaska has 57 million acres (more than all of Utah) set aside as wilderness, as well as tens of millions more wild acres off limits to drilling in national park, wildlife refuge, and similar designations.

Whatever final acreage is decided upon as being open to lease in the options laid out in the DEIS will be but a small percentage of the tens of millions of acres of land already set as wilderness or off limits to development in Alaska.

In terms of the impact on wildlife, there is little wildlife activity in the area during the winter months, when most drilling would take place. At these times temperatures reach negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and most food is buried under layers of ice and snow.

Similar concerns of environmental or wildlife impact were raised when the Trans-Alaska pipeline was proposed. CFACT delivers public testimony supporting ANWR development 3But years later, the pipeline has proved to be reliably safe, while providing much needed energy for our nation. For example, the Prudhoe Bay oilfield’s Central Arctic caribou herd is over 20,000 today, compared to 5,000 in 1975.

Oil and gas seeping into water or the surrounding area is in many cases a natural phenomenon. Sometimes this is how we know certain areas are good targets for oil and gas development. Harvesting oil and gas in these areas can prevent such leaking from occurring in the future.

Of course, caution and oversight must be in place to ensure that when spills or other accidents occur there can be quick response to minimize any environmental impact. Responsible parties should be made to clean up and pay for remediation. Requirements in recent years for double-hulled ships are wise and necessary initiatives.

To conclude, CFACT supports this draft EIS that allows leasing for oil and gas development in ANWR. We support it because there are already the tens of millions of acres placed off limits to protect nature, there has been a proven track record of development in the area, and ANWR will provide much needed jobs, revenue and energy for both Alaskans and all Americans.

Author

  • Adam Houser coordinates student leaders for CFACT's collegians program and writes on issues of climate and energy.