Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut May 21, 2013 - 10:44 am

Alaska proposes seismic testing in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

North Slope Borough, Arctic Slope Regional Corp. support move

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
No seismic testing has been conducted in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge since the 1980s. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE)
No seismic testing has been conducted in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge since the 1980s. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE)

Alaska wants to conduct seismic testing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell offered up $50 million May 21 to start seismic testing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, along with a 104-page report to support that proposal.

The coastal area that Alaska wants to look at represents about nine percent of the 19.2-million-acre refuge, and is thought to contain about 10 billion barrels of oil. 

Parnell wants the U.S. federal government and private sector to join into the seismic program.

Charlotte Brower, the Inupiaq mayor of the North Slope Borough, who spoke at Parnell’s pitch in Washington, D.C., said the borough supports onshore development in ANWR over the more dangerous offshore efforts of Shell to explore the Arctic Ocean’s federally-owned outer-continental shelf.

“This represents the essential first step to assisting the federal government in making informed management decisions in this region,” she said. “The North Slope Borough has advocated for responsible development of Alaska’s onshore oil and gas resources, over the inherently more risky and speculative nature of offshore outer-continental development.”

Rex Rock, president of Arctic Slope Regional Corp., the corporation representing 11,000 Inupiaq shareholders on the North Slope, said the only community in the refuge, Kaktovik, supports exploration. He also noted that 3-D seismic testing will not leave an imprint on the tundra.

But Nicole-Whittington Evans, Alaska regional director for the Wilderness Society, said that’s not true. Seismic testing involves large vehicles criss-crossing the tundra, and they can damage fragile plant life.

with files from the Alaska Dispatch

For more coverage, read the Alaska Dispatch’s “Alaska offers $50 million”

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