BOEMRE to offer revised impact statement in Chukchi leasing case

Posted: Sunday, March 06, 2011

An update was filed in the Lease 193 litigation involving the challenge against a decision to offer 29.4 million acres of public lands at the Chukchi Sea for oil and gas leasing.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) anticipates a revised Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) by late May with 45 days for public comment. BOEMRE anticipates requiring 70 days for response to public comment and issuing a final SEIS.

The 15 plaintiffs, which include Oceana, allege the land decision violates the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

In an e-mail, Michael LeVine, Pacific senior counsel for Oceana, said, “We need healthy oceans, affordable energy, and responsible companies. Understanding the Arctic ocean and what steps are needed to protect it if oil drilling occurs is the first step to making good decisions. BOEMRE is to be commended for taking a step back and for rejecting a draft analysis that simply ignored the agency’s responsibility to be a good steward of our ocean resources. After the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, analyzing the likelihood of a major spill is clearly necessary. The Alaska Region concluded that basic information about the ocean was not at all important to its decision about whether or under what conditions to sell our resources to oil companies. BOEMRE cannot fix this problem by May. Without a serious commitment to getting the basic science needed to make good decisions, the agency is just following the failed lease-at-all-costs approach. We must let science and preparedness, not politics, guide us in the Arctic.”

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