Bush lifts drilling ban in Alaska's Bristol Bay
Posted on 01 April 2007
US President George W. Bush has lifted a ban on oil and gas drilling in Bristol Bay, Alaska, which has been protected since 1989 through a presidential withdrawal first declared by President George H. Bush.US President George W. Bush has lifted a ban on oil and gas drilling in Bristol Bay, Alaska, which has been protected since 1989 through a presidential withdrawal first declared by President George H. Bush.
The US government has spent US$95 million to buy back the oil and gas leases it sold in Bristol Bay prior to the withdrawal.
Bi l l Ei chbaum, manag ing director and vice-president of the marine portfolio at WWF-US, said: “I am very disappointed with the president’s action. Bristol Bay should be off the table for drilling.
“We will now work with Congress to override the president’s action and re-instate the Congressional moratorium on oil and gas development in Bristol Bay which was allowed to expire in 2004.”
Bristol Bay supports important fish stocks as well as marine mammals, including the world’s most endangered whale species, the North Pacific population of northern right whales.
Eichbaum said: “Why r isk ruining a billion dollar fishery, a valuable sport hunting and fishing industry, a critical resource for Native Alaskans, and one of the most important places for marine wildlife populations in the Bering Sea?
“An oil spill in Bristol Bay would have devastating impacts with little chance of a complete recovery.” Br istol Bay and the Nor th Aleutian shelf experience intense storms wi th high winds and massive seas through the winter months. Offshore infrastructure would be exposed to the full fury of these storms at a time of year when response efforts would be effectively impossible. In addition, the seismic testing required to find oil and gas reserves is known to disturb marine mammals and even fish and crabs.
Bristol Bay represents just a minor part of Alaska’s oil and gas potential. Natural gas drilling at Prudhoe Bay — where the field is delineated and infrastructure is in place — is a much more substantial energy source.
Tom Lalley Sr. Communications Officer, WWF-US firstname.lastname@example.org