Northeast National Petroleum Reserve Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

Location
North Slope Borough, Alaska
Organization(s)
U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Alaska Intertribal Council, Columbia University Institute on Medicine as a Profession

The United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed oil and gas leasing in the Northeast National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska (NPR-A), and completed an environmental impact statement (EIS) to evaluate this proposal. The North Slope Borough, the regional government, has generally supported oil and gas development in the region; however, the borough expressed strong concerns about this proposal because of the Northeast NPR-A region's importance to the traditions and food supply of neighboring Alaska Native communities. The community had contemplated litigation to stop BLM's leasing plan, but ultimately the borough became a cooperating agency to represent the interests of local residents and contributed to an in-depth HIA to inform the BLM's decision-making process. The HIA highlighted a number of potential health risks and benefits of the proposed leasing, including: 1) impacts on the local diet (heavily dependent on locally-harvested wild fish and game) and rates of obesity and diabetes; 2) exposure to pollution from any major emissions sources nearby or through ingestion of contaminated fish and game if pollution were to enter the food chain; 3) social problems, such as illicit drug and alcohol importation by non-resident workers coming to the region; and 4) the use of oil and gas revenues to support local services important to health, such as public safety, fire and medical emergency response.

Outcome

The HIA made a number of recommendations, and BLM considered these as potential mitigation measures. Ultimately, the BLM adopted some additional protections for key hunting and fishing areas; measures to minimize disruption of local game, such as elevating the height of new pipelines to allow free caribou migration; cultural orientation for workers; and a requirement for a more in-depth and site-specific consideration of health impacts for any major oil development on leased lands in the future. Ultimately, there was no litigation on this EIS.

At a Glance

Status
Complete
Completion Date
2007
Decision-Level
Federal
Sector
Natural Resources and Energy
Organization type
Government Agency