Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Alaska's effort to peel off some ANWR land under review at Interior Department

The state's current dispute over the boundary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a place believed to have huge oil deposits, is partly based on a pilot for a defunct airline who came to believe long ago the U.S. government was enforcing an incorrect border. Andy Bachner, a Fairbanks investor in oil and gas leases, said his flights across Alaska's North Slope as a Wien Air Alaska pilot started during the early days of the oil rush in the 1960s. That brought him into contact with petroleum geologists who took particular interest in that area of the Slope, which later became the 19-million-acre national wildlife refuge. On his flights — sometimes at altitudes so low he could spot polar bears and whales — Bachner said he realized ANWR's northwest boundary, as enforced by federal officials, overshot the Canning River, the western boundary in the refuge's legal description, by far. The federal government says the boundary extends to the Staines River, which it describes as a channel of the Canning. The state, and Bachner, say the Staines, farther to the west, is a river in its own right and therefore outside the refuge...more

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