Obama Admin Objects to Alaska Oil and Gas Development Bill

Phil Taylor
The New York Times
6/16/2011

The Obama administration today said a proposal from House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) to expedite oil and gas leasing and energy infrastructure permitting in an Alaska reserve could force federal regulators to flout environmental laws and includes a costly, redundant resource assessment.

Mike Pool, deputy director of the Bureau of Land Management, also announced the agency will hold lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve, known as NPR-A, in December 2011 and each year after, making good on the administration’s mid-May promise to expedite development in the 23-million-acre reserve.

But he emphasized that his agency, which oversees 191 lease tracts covering 1.6 million acres, has all the tools it needs to facilitate development of oil in the reserve while balancing protections for wildlife habitat and subsistence users.

He said the bill’s requirement to hold lease sales in the areas most likely to produce commercial oil and gas and set permitting deadlines could undermine the agency’s public land management process, including the National Environmental Policy Act…

The article continues at The New York Times.

Related: Critics fault retired Justice O’Connor over ethics

WASHINGTON — Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor continues to hear cases in U.S. appeals courts, while also playing a role in public policy issues. Her critics say she should do one or the other, but not both…

…Most recently, O’Connor hosted an after-hours reception at the court that was billed as a celebration of Bristol Bay in Alaska. But the featured speakers, other than O’Connor, were opponents of a proposed Alaskan copper and gold mine. They were in Washington to lobby lawmakers and regulators against the proposed Pebble Mine…

…Last week, O’Connor was the host of a Supreme Court reception “to celebrate the economic, cultural and ecological values of Alaska’s Bristol Bay Watershed.”

Opponents of the proposed huge mine near the bay fear it will devastate the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon fishery. The Environmental Protection Agency recently said it would study potential effects from the mine. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson attended and briefly spoke at the reception…

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