Yesterday, the State of Alaska sent a message to Washington D.C.
that the time has come to
cleanupmore than 100 contaminated oil and gas well sites in Northern Alaska when Governor Sean Parnell
signed House Joint Resolution 29, the NPR-A Legacy Wells resolution this morning in Anchorage.
“Three decades after the federal drilling program stopped the wells remain unplugged,” said Rep. Charisse Millett (Photo, center, with Parnell and AOGCC Commissioner Cathy Foerster, by Jeff Turner) . “This is a disgrace that every Alaskan, every American, should be angry about and demand that the BLM immediately create an aggressive cleanup plan for all the Legacy Wells.”
Starting in the 1940’s, the federal government drilled 136 oil and gas wells in the area now known as the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Three decades after drilling ceased only nine are capped and cleaned up in accordance with State of Alaska regulations.
Introduced by Millett during the 2012 legislative session, HJR 29 calls on the federal Bureau of Land Management to honor its mission statement and clean up the drill sites. Some wells are actually leaking natural gas and the drill sites are covered with trash that can harm fish, birds, animals, marine mammals, groundwater and vegetation.
Citing a complete failure to take the State of Alaska’s views into consideration, Governor Sean Parnell yesterday announced the State will immediately withdraw as a cooperating agency from the Memorandum of Understanding concerning the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPR-A). Last month, without providing any notice to the State or any other cooperating agency, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced millions of acres in the NPR-A will be off limits to development as part of the new NPR-A land management proposal.
“Your recent surprise announcement of a preferred alternative effectively withdrawing millions of acres in NPR-A (an area designated by Congress for oil and gas development to meet the energy needs of the nation), and the complete failure of the Department of the Interior to take into account the State’s comments as a cooperating agency, as required by federal statutes, regulations, BLM handbooks and policies, shows a complete lack of respect for the views of the State,” Governor Parnell wrote to Secretary Salazar.
The State had provided comments supporting full development of oil and gas resources in the NPR-A, with reasonable mitigation measures. The State’s recommendations were not included in the selected alternative.
Governor Parnell urged the Secretary to start the process over and include input from the state. View the letter.