WASHINGTON – Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes today released the following statement applauding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to permit ConocoPhillips' Alpine Satellite Development Plan (CD-5) in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. With the issuance of a final permit today, the construction of pipelines and a bridge over the Nigliq Channel of the Colville River will move forward.
“To harness Alaska's tremendous energy potential for our nation, we must continue to find ways to responsibly expand opportunities for exploration, development, and delivery of resources from the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska,” said Interior Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes, who serves as Chair of the President's Interagency Working Group on Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska.
“I commend the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for working collaboratively with ConocoPhillips and other U.S. government agencies to find a way for this important project to proceed in a safe and responsible way. The Department of the Interior will continue to work with industry to develop the abundant resources in the NPR-A – protecting critical habitat for millions of migratory birds and calving areas for the Teshekpuk Lake caribou and safeguarding Native Alaskans' subsistence needs, while guiding sensible, productive energy exploration and development that will help drive America's energy economy,” said Hayes.
Today's decision follows an agreement in principle reached earlier in December by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and ConocoPhillips confirming that the construction of the pipeline and bridge is acceptable to the federal agencies so long as the permit application included engineering changes and mitigation proposed by the company based on consultations with the resource agencies. The company has also agreed to allow other companies that develop leases in the NPR-A to use the same crossing, rather than seek approval for additional channel crossings in the area.
This approach will reduce the environmental impacts associated with development of existing and future leases in the NPR-A west of the Colville River. The agreement came as a result of a request by the Army Corps that FWS and the EPA evaluate the environmental impacts associated with the company's revised project.
Hayes also announced today the designation of four distinguished members of the state, local, tribal and NGO communities in Alaska as liaisons to the Interagency Working Group on Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska (Working Group) that was established by Presidential Executive Order on July 12, 2011. The Executive Order requested the identification of individuals with whom the Working Group would consult to facilitate coordination on energy permitting maters.
The four liaisons include:
The Working Group, which is chaired by Deputy Secretary Hayes, is coordinating federal efforts to develop and permit responsible offshore and onshore energy resources and associated infrastructure in Alaska. Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior Kim Elton has been designated as the primary point of contact to facilitate communications between Alaskans and the Working Group, and will work closely with the newly-named liaisons.
The National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska is a 22.6 million acre area managed by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management. The NPR-A is an important resource for domestic oil development. Estimates indicate that the NPR-A contains more than one billion barrels of technically recoverable oil.
Earlier this year, the President announced that the Department of the Interior will hold annual lease sales in the NPR-A. The most recent sale took place on Dec. 7.