Keep the news coming! Your ad here for only $30 a week.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Drilling could top 90,000 acres on native lands

Seattle Times writer Hal Bernton reports today on a number of overlooked facts in the history of ANWR oil development.

Most interesting are details of a land swap between the federal government and Arctic Slope Regional Corp., a native-owned oil extraction company. We reported some of these details here, but Bernton adds a lot more important detail. Most importantly, the corporation actually holds title to 92,160 subsurface acres inside the refuge, and it is clamoring to drill there.

So the claimed 2,000-acre impact of ANWR drilling, so popular with politicians and their conservative spinmeisters, is an even grander fib than we already knew. Arctic Slope is not bound by this limit because of its private land holdings. Drilling could actually sprawl over the entirety of its 92,160 acres. On top of this there is the true impact of road- and pipeline-miles throughout the refuge, not included in the 2,000-acre claim.

Politicians have also been fond of proclaiming that all Alaskan natives will benefit from ANWR drilling. That's not necessarily true, as Arctic Slope Regional Corp. gets to keep 100 percent of the money generated on its lands, which could reach billions.

For these and other reasons, many native people on the North Slope are beginning to have a change of heart about ANWR drilling. Earlier this year, 57 of the more than 150 adults residents of Kaktovik signed a petition against refuge drilling.

"Inupiat subsistence hunters and their families are beginning to feel a sense of dread about oil development," George Ahmaogak, mayor of the North Slope Borough based in Barrow, wrote in a 2003 commentary that described a growing network of pipelines and roads onshore and expanding offshore leasing.

Funny how these details get overlooked in the rush for oil. Thanks to Hal Bernton for bringing them back to the table.

[Technorati tags: ]