Wilderness Recommended! Alaska Brief Newsletter – May 2015
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one step closer to permanent protection from oil and gas development. After decades of advocacy to keep drilling out of the Arctic Refuge, Trustees for Alaska and our coalition partners continue to celebrate President Obama submitting a Wilderness recommendation to Congress for an additional 12.28 million acres of the Arctic Refuge!
In early April, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) signed the Record of Decision (ROD) for Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Arctic Refuge. The CCP describes how USFWS will manage the Arctic Refuge for the next 15 years. It recommends three Wilderness Study Areas for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System, four rivers for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and implements a series of interim management actions for visitor use on the Kongakut River pending completion of a Refuge-wide Visitor Use Management Plan. The decision is the result of a years-long public planning process—with over 600,000 comments submitted by the general public.
With Congressional approval, 99% of the Arctic Refuge would become Wilderness. Since President Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act thirty-five years ago, no other President has been such an advocate for protecting the wilderness nature of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Getting a Wilderness recommendation through the current Congress presents a significant challenge, but the recommendation is an essential first step toward achieving permanent protection.
Trustees will defend the Wilderness recommendation and CCP goals. We also continue to defend against the State of Alaska’s lawsuit to undertake oil and gas exploration on the Coastal Plain. One of Trustees for Alaska’s highest priorities is protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s iconic wilderness values.
Pebble’s Legal Challenge to EPA’s Clean Water Act Authority
The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will be in Anchorage next week to hear oral argument in Pebble Limited Partnership’s attempt to halt the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) process under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to stop or limit the large-scale mine proposed for the headwaters of Bristol Bay. Trustees for Alaska intervened in the case on the side of EPA on behalf of Nunamta Aulukestai. We don’t expect an immediate court decision; the court will issue a written decision later.
The hearing is open to the public. It is the third case on the court’s docket for May 14, 2015, starting at 9:00 am in Courtroom 2 of the Anchorage District Courthouse on Seventh Avenue across from the Anchorage Museum. Bring identification to get through security in the Federal Building.
Read all the stories in this issue:
Subscribe to the newsletter to receive the Alaska Brief direct in your inbox. SUBSCRIBE