Oil Drilling in the Arctic Coastal Plain
The criticism continues concerning the DOI fast-track goal of completing a draft environmental statement (DEIS) for oil leasing in less than six months. The environmental assessment for the seismic testing has not been issued. For a summary of the potential risks and impacts from seismic click on the Alaska Wilderness League fact sheet here.
Izembek Land Trade and Road
DOI is moving forward with technical administrative items to advance the land exchange, including surveying the road corridor and material sites. Notice of the survey was in Federal Register on Sept. 12th. DOJ has confirmed that BLM is going to be republishing the FR Notice because it was confusion. This will restart the clock on the 30 day review and protest period once it is republished.
The lawsuit challenging the proposed land trade and road through the heart of the Izembek wilderness is in the hands of the Anchorage Federal District Court as Trustees for Alaska performs excellent legal work on behalf of Friends and eight other conservation organizations who filed the lawsuit against the proposed land trade and road. We await a ruling by the court on our motion for summary judgment. There was little new in the government brief, and we remain optimistic that we will prevail against this destructive, costly, and unnecessary project.
Kenai Revised Regulations
The USFWS is preparing revisions to the regulations regarding hunting in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. This revision was ordered by DOI to accommodate the long-standing efforts of the State of Alaska to dramatically increase hunting and motorized access on the Refuge. As with the similar DOI orders to the National Park Service, their plan is to eliminate long-standing protections of habitat and wildlife on national wildlife refuges. We expect that the Department of Interior will that the Refuge follow the demands of the State to allow baiting of brown bears, off-road vehicle access during the winter, expanded hunting in the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area along the Skilak Loop Road. We are closely monitoring this process and working with our conservation partners to prevent or at least minimize these destructive regulations.