Friday, February 22, 2013

Wildlife Protected as National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska Opened

Exploration and development of lands containing about three-quarters of the economically recoverable oil in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska will be permitted, under a Record of Decision signed today by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. At the same time, the decision protects natural resources in the 23-million-acre Reserve. The protected resources include critical areas for sensitive bird populations from all seven continents and for the roughly 400,000 caribou in the Teshekpuk Lake and Western Arctic Caribou Herds. Subsistence users in more than 40 villages in northwest Alaska rely on these caribou herds. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Reserve has between 5.9 and 13.2 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil with a mean estimate of 9.3 billion barrels. The decision makes all lands along the Chukchi Sea coast, most of the lands along the Beaufort Sea coast, and other lands available for pipeline route applications and other infrastructure that would support offshore oil and gas development. The decision creates the Peard Bay Special Area and enlarges the Teshekpuk Lake and Utukok River Uplands Special Areas, expanding protected Special Areas in the NPR-A from 8.3 million acres to 13.35 million acres. National Audubon Society President and CEO David Yarnold said his group is pleased with the decision, saying, “By protecting 11 million acres of Arctic wetlands and wildlife nurseries, this decision proves that sound energy policy and conservation can go hand in hand. And not only that, they must.”...more

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