News brief: Department of Interior will lease 1.8 million acres in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve
The US Department of the Interior (DOI) today released details about its plan to award 190 parcels of land in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve for oil and gas exploration. The parcels are expected to go up for lease sale next month.
The DOI says the plan excludes land in environmentally sensitive areas around Teshekpuk Lake, as shown in the map below.
"This sale reflects the Administration's continuing efforts to encourage environmentally responsible development of domestic energy resources, including fossil fuels, to reduce our nation's heavy dependence on imported oil," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a press release. "It also demonstrates our continuing commitment to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitat on sensitive public lands with exceptional ecological value."
Read the full press release after the jump...
Oil and Gas Lease Sale in National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska Protects Sensitive Migratory Bird Habitat, Offers 1.8 million acres
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of the Interior will hold a lease sale for oil and gas parcels in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska next month, offering 190 tracts of land, totaling about 1.8 million acres, while protecting critical migratory bird and caribou habitat in buffer zones around Teshekpuk Lake.
"This sale reflects the Administration's continuing efforts to encourage environmentally responsible development of domestic energy resources, including fossil fuels, to reduce our nation's heavy dependence on imported oil," Secretary Salazar said. "It also demonstrates our continuing commitment to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitat on sensitive public lands with exceptional ecological value."
Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will open sealed bids for the lease sale at 9 a.m., August 11, 2010, in the Wilda Marston Theater of the Z J Loussac Public Library, 3600 Denali St., Anchorage. The tracts offered cover land available for oil and gas leasing within the Northeast NPR-A, closest to existing infrastructure, such as the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, and areas of known development potential.
In developing this lease sale, the BLM chose not to offer lands around Teshekpuk Lake in consideration of important fish and wildlife habitats. The lake shore areas contain internationally significant molting habitat for black brant, Canada geese, and greater white-fronted geese.
The lake's shoreline has been respected through several Administrations, which have agreed to withhold the lake (219,000 acres) and areas to the north from leasing. The area north and east of the lake (430,000 acres) has been deferred from leasing until 2018. This sale also holds back about 170,000 acres south of the lake because of migratory bird and caribou habitat concerns.
The Teshekpuk Caribou Herd has almost doubled in population in recent years, from about 35,000 to almost 70,000 animals, and BLM has agreed that the herd's biology justifies holding back a significant number of potential leases south of Teshekpuk Lake so that the agency can update its understanding of the herd's needs and land use. The herd is particularly important to local village subsistence hunters who take about 5 percent of the herd in an average year.
Currently, there are 310 authorized oil and gas leases totaling 3,026,633 acres in the NPR-A. The sale announcement is published in today's Federal Register. For detailed information regarding the lease sale visit: http://www.blm.gov/ak/.
The BLM manages 245 million acres of public land known as the National System of Public Lands. The lands are primarily located in 12 Western states, including 75 million acres in Alaska. With a budget of about $1 billion, the bureau also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.