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BLM Poised to Permit Seismic Oil Exploration in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

by | Dec 28, 2020 | Alaska, NEWS

** COMMENTS DUE BY WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 30! **

In a continuation of what has become a dubious ‘tradition’ at the BLM of allowing public input on unpopular +/or damaging projects for as short a time as possible, and when participation is most likely to be minimal, commenting is now open regarding the ‘adequacy’ of their Environmental Analysis (EA) related to proposed seismic oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and their draft Finding of No New Significant Impact (FONNSI), which means the project will proceed with no further opportunity for public engagement.

This legally-required phase of the project was released to the public for comment on December 16.

Thus, in addition to trying to navigate the final 2020 holidays pandemic-style, and especially looking forward to toasting the end of what has been an epically shit year, you are cordially invited to sift through ~300 pages of documents, not to mention THREE VOLUMES of the Coastal Plain Oil & Gas Leasing & Development Plan Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), from which the Finding of No NEW Significant Impact (FONNSI) is derived, in order to make an informed comment.

Not merely the most recent shady stunt the Bureau has pulled under Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and William Pendley (who has continued to head the BLM in defiance of court orders primarily on the technicality of titling), this project related to a hideous scheme to turn some of our nation’s most beautiful and pristine public lands into a colder version of Bakersfield is the ultimate thank-you gift from the current administration to Big Oil for all their donations, and an enormous waste of taxpayer dollars for a program that the majority of Americans do not want and that the incoming administration has vowed to end.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

The BLM wants to know if you think the Environmental Analysis (EA) for this project is sufficient to forego the more thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). If the EA is accepted, this ends the public’s opportunity to directly participate in this project. If an EIS is prepared, the Bureau is legally required to open it to public comment before it is finalized. This could take another several months. Or at least until January 20th, if you catch my drift.

The BLM also wants to know if you agree with their Finding of No New Significant Impact (FONNSI) for this seismic oil exploration based on the aforementioned Coastal Plain Oil & Gas Leasing & Development Plan EIS. Frankly, a quick scan of the potential impacts as described in the Draft FONNSI appear to so horrifically significant that whether or not this finding is appropriate, if the project isn’t denied outright, a full EIS should be warranted, regardless of the existence of a prior similar one. Here’s a more comprehensive look (yet still much less than 300 pages) of the seismic exploration proposal.

Finally, you may consider adding a statement related to needless budgetary impact and waste of taxpayer dollars. Ultimately, it will be much less expensive and require fewer labor hours to commit to going forward with an EIS process that will likely be ended when it is made moot by the incoming President than it would be to allow this ill-advised project to go forward on the ground, not only doing actual damage to ANWR but also requiring significant time and expense for BLM (paid for by ‘We the Taxpayers’) to manage and monitor it.

**PRO TIP: Non-form letters are considered significantly more than form letters! That said, please feel free to use any part of this article you like when composing your own comment.

PLEASE COMMENT BY WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 30!

For more information on ANWR and why it merits our support and protection:

The Wilderness Society has an extensive informational and action center dedicated to the beauty, fragility, and vulnerability of this most special national treasure.

<a href="https://www.supportpubliclands.com/author/superclassy/" target="_self">Michelle Markel</a>

Michelle Markel

When not hiking a ridiculously long trail or exploring some of our almost 840 million acres of public lands from her van / house, Michelle can typically be found in someone's basement or shed feverishly working on this website.

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