U.S. government bans oil development in Alaskan Arctic area
May 16, 2008
A large swathe of Alaska will be off-limits to oil development under a decision today by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Conservationists welcomed the move.
In a plan released Friday, the BLM announced it would grant permanent protection from energy exploration to 219,000 acres of Teshekpuk Lake, an area known for birds and other wildlife.
“This represents a significant conservation victory for arctic wildlife and demonstrates that there is room for both protection of key areas and for responsible energy development in the arctic coastal plain rich in natural resources,” said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
“We have found that the Teshekpuk Lake region is distinctive for its high diversity, abundance, and nesting productivity for these migrants,” said Dr. Steve Zack, conservation scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society. “We are pleased to see protection afforded this important place and look forward to seeking full protection of those areas near Teshekpuk that now have deferred leasing. It may well be that this area rich in wetlands may be an important refuge in the future as the climate continues to change the arctic in dramatic ways.”
Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of the Interior, said that nearby areas in the Northeast portion of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska would be available for leasing to energy firms.