North Slope Borough Stakes Out Its Oil and Gas Position
|ALERT FOR ALASKA AND ALL STATES WITH WATER; A NEW EPA INITIATIVE COULD STRIKE ANOTHER BLOW TO NATURAL RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT, AGRICULTURE AND ALL LIFESTYLES DEPENDENT ON REASONABLE, TRADITIONAL WATER USES. -dh *** AG PROFESSIONAL. One little word can mean so much. In relation to the Clean Water Act, that word is “navigable,” and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers are trying to get rid of it. If they succeed, EPA will have the authority to regulate nearly every drop of water, and some dry land, too. With this additional authority for EPA comes a likely deluge of regulations and permitting requirements for farmers, ranchers and other landowners. This is why the American Farm Bureau Federation has launched the “Stop the Flood of Regulation” campaign. ... “Right now, EPA’s regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act is basically restricted to larger bodies of water and waterways that feed into those larger bodies,” explained Don Parrish, AFBF water quality specialist. “If the guidance document goes into effect, EPA officials would have the power to regulate even a roadside ditch that fills with water only after a good soaking.”
A clear message from the North Slope settled on participants in the 8th Annual Oil & Gas Congress
meeting in Anchorage on Wednesday (9-19-12). North Slope Borough
Mayor Charlotte Brower (NGP Photo
) joined Arctic Slope Regional Corporation President and CEO Rex Rock, Sr.
in expressing appreciation for the benefits of oil and gas exploration and development – with certain conditions.
The panel presentation, moderated by your author, also included Mayor Dan Sullivan's representative, Dan Kendall. and the Northwest Territories' David Ramsay. Note: More on those presentations in future reports.)
Brower staked out the Borough’s position. She said her citizens have participated in “on-shore oil and gas development on the North Slope for decades…,” and gleaned, “…direct financial benefits from oil and gas development.” She gave three, unambiguous reasons for why, “…we have always expressed a preference for on-shore development:
· "First, we believe that on-shore development can be conducted in a safe, responsible manner.
· "Second, tax revenues generated by oil & gas infrastructure have enabled the North Slope Borough to provide world-class services to our residents.
· "And lastly we have seen that on-shore development and the protection of our subsistence resources are not mutually exclusive goals."
Regarding offshore activity (OCS), she said concerns are, "centered around the core belief that we must do all that we can to protect the subsistence resources that are so important to our people - a concept we refer to as food security. Thus, we are often left to find the delicate balance between protecting our subsistence resources and supporting responsible resource development."
|ADN/AP. Federal officials Thursday gave Royal Dutch Shell approval for limited site work in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska's northern coast.
Brower's preference for on-shore oil and gas activity did not, however, preclude OCS support for a number of reasons. She noted the scientific research being conducted in support of OCS activity and the responsible communication and community activity being undertaken by various companies.
"I want to echo or touch on what my good friend, Rex Rock believes:
When development projects are taking place on or near Native lands, those on the green side of the aisle tend to work to divide a community against a project or create the illusion of a win-lose situation.
This simply does not have to be the case. There are many examples of win-win scenarios in our region when it comes to resource development projects."
-Mayor Charlotte Brower
She also expressed displeasure that Department of Interior action could preclude certain OCS development.
In remarks directed to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, she said she is concerned that, "if the federal government chooses a management plan for the NPR that severely limits the areain which an oil pipeline can be built from OCS development sites, the economic consequences of that decision will drive industry to favor using oil tankers rather than a pipeline to bring OCS oil to market. We strongly believe that pipelines to shore need to be encouraged so that oil produced in the OCS ends up in the TAPS pipeline and not on tankers headed south."
We found Mayor Brower's presentation to be balanced and realistic, an encouragement for more Arctic oil and gas investment under reasonable conditions, a challenge to overly ambitious federal regulation and a sobering caution to environmental, "community organizers". We believe her words should be studied by all private and government entities having a desire or need to participate in North Slope social and economic activities. We further believe that this particular speech may serve as an Alaska North Slope community and government relations template for a long time to come.