FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 28, 2022
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Liz Mering, Inletkeeper (907.235.3459)
Marissa Wilson, Executive Director AMCC (907.299.6566)
PROPOSED BILL IN CONGRESS IGNORES ALASKANS, WOULD SACRIFICE COOK INLET
40 years of oil and gas development in undeveloped Lower Cook Inlet puts local economies at risk
HOMER, AK – The proposed climate and energy package out of D.C. today would put the recently canceled Lease Sale 258 back on the calendar for 2022 putting over a million acres up for sale to Outside oil and gas companies.
Lease Sale 258 would auction off over a million acres in the federal waters of Cook Inlet in 9 square mile blocks. Hilcorp already holds 14 leases in these waters, and although the area remains undeveloped for oil and gas at present, allowing a land grab such as this could open the floodgates to the large-scale industrialization of Cook Inlet.
The lease sale area overlaps critical habitat for the critically endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale, important sport and commercial fisheries, and risks protected areas like Katmai and Lake Clark National Parks. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management predicted a one in five chance of one or more large oil spills should leases occur.
Tribes, fishermen, business owners, bear viewing guides, tourists, and residents of Cook Inlet all spoke up against the sale, voicing their concerns about its impacts to traditional harvest, fisheries (including Homer’s incredible halibut fishery), property values and tourism income, bear viewing sales, spill risks, valuable and the ongoing climate emergency the world–and Alaska–face. By contrast, oil and gas companies did not advocate for the lease sale during the comment period at all. A grand total of 9 commenters – five organizations and four individuals – spoke up in support of a lease sale. The remaining almost 93,000 comments opposed a lease sale in Lower Cook Inlet.
“It is incredibly disappointing to learn that Alaskans and Americans are being ignored because of the influence that Outside industry has on politicians in D.C.” Liz Mering, Advocacy Director, Cook Inletkeeper. “Alaskans have fought for decades to protect these waters from this short sighted and destructive use and will continue to do so even in the face of this political setback.”
“This place is my home and my source of food. The value of this ecosystem cannot be overstated. The interconnected diversity of life that blooms from these waters is impossible to capture, quantify, monetize or replace. The world’s fourth-strongest tides course through here, sweeping along an arm of volcanoes active with tectonic movement. It is not a place for pipelines and oil spills. The willingness of decision makers to turn their backs to the sacredness of this landscape in order to strengthen their political posture is absolutely heartbreaking.”
Cook Inletkeeper is a community-based organization founded in 1995 with a mission to protect the Cook Inlet watershed and the life it sustains.
Alaska Marine Conservation Council is an Alaska-based non-profit working to protect and promote the integrity of Alaska’s marine ecosystems and the health of ocean-dependent communities.