BLM releases draft environmental impact statement for ANWR leasing

The US Bureau of Land Management released a draft environmental impact statement for oil and gas leasing on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Coastal Plain a year after President Donald J. Trump signed federal tax legislation which included a mandate for the US Interior secretary to establish such a program.

"This draft reflects thousands of hours of work that demonstrate a commitment to the development of these documents and the range of alternatives," Deputy Interior Sec. David Bernhardt said on Dec. 20. "We look forward to a very robust public comment period to better inform our final decision.”

Comments on the draft EIS will be accepted through Feb. 11, 2019. Publication of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Notice of Availability in the Dec. 28 Federal Register will officially begin the 45-day public comment period, BLM said. The first lease sale will be held after the Final EIS and Record of Decision are issued and will offer not fewer than 400,000 acres area-wide of high-potential lands for bid, it indicated.

BLM said it also plans to hold public meetings in Anchorage, Arctic Village, Fairbanks, Kaktovik, Fort Yukon, Venetie, Utqiaqvik and Washington, DC, at times and locations to be announced in local media and on the agency’s website.

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