- Associated Press - Monday, January 26, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Leaders of an Alaska tribal government are criticizing Gov. Bill Walker for promoting a ConocoPhillips petroleum drilling project within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska that they say will hurt subsistence fish and wildlife resources.

The tribe for the North Slope village of Nuiqsut says it was not consulted before Walker threw his support behind ConocoPhillips’ proposed Greater Moose’s Tooth Unit 1 development in the 36,000-square-mile NPRA, the Alaska Dispatch News (https://bit.ly/1yJ7ZDM) reported.

ConocoPhillips estimates the project could produce up to 30,000 barrels of crude a day. It would be the first oil produced from federal lands in the nation’s largest undeveloped reserve.

The company’s proposal for an 8-mile road and parallel pipeline recently won a wetlands permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the reserve, and Native village of Nuiqsut leaders prefer an alternative development plan that would not allow the access road and pipeline to violate a 3-mile protective buffer around an important subsistence area known as Fish Creek.

Walker and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell should have consulted the federally recognized tribe before discussing the project, tribal President Samuel Kunaknana said in a Jan. 8 letter to David Conrad, acting director of Indian Energy Policy.

“This is blatantly unfair, and shows tremendous disregard for the voice of the tribal people of the region,” Kunaknana wrote.

Staff members in the governor’s office said Walker is promoting projects in Alaska by speaking directly with federal officials. Craig Fleener, Walker’s Arctic policy adviser, said the governor also is taking early steps to formalize state relations with more than 200 tribes.

“We’ll do the best job we can and engage Nuiqsut just like we would any community with an issue,” Fleener said. “The thing that’s tough for us right now is many projects are taking place across Alaska.”

The North Slope Borough government supports the ConocoPhillips plan. The Native village corporations for Nuiqsut and the North Slope region also support it.

Isaac Nukapigak, president of the Kuukpik Corp. in Nuiqsut, which owns land that could be developed for the project, said the ConocoPhillips’ plan would have the least effect on marshy areas. The plan calls for a shorter road, he said, requiring less gravel fill.

“I think they need to do their homework,” he said of tribal leaders.


Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, https://www.adn.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide