Oil, Gas & Leasing

Unveiling the True Costs and Impacts of Oil, Gas, and Leasing in the Cook Inlet Region. Delve into the nuanced landscape of oil and gas production, uncovering both its historical significance and the ongoing challenges it poses to our environment, communities, and public resources.

Oil rig out at sea
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Championing Environmental Responsibility

The Cook Inlet region is generally regarded as the birthplace of commercial oil and gas production in Alaska, with the discovery of oil in the Swanson River oil field in 1957 providing an important catalyst for Alaska statehood in 1959. Since then, industry has produced over 1.4 billion barrels of oil, 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and provided important tax and other revenues for local and state governments. While the dollar value of oil and gas production is readily recognized by corporate managers and politicians, however, the true costs of oil and gas production and use are not. For example, climate scientists now agree that the combustion of carbon-based fuels, such as oil and gas, is accelerating warming trends, including in Southcentral Alaska, where a massive spruce bark beetle epidemic hastened by warming trends has destroyed over 2 million acres of forest, and where salmon streams on the Kenai Peninsula routinely violate temperature standards set to protect fish.

Furthermore, because corporate managers have a fiduciary duty to maximize their profits, they often push the true costs of production and transportation onto the public, instead of assuming these costs and possibly reducing profit margins. For example, Cook Inlet is the only coastal waterbody in the nation where oil and gas corporations legally dump up to 2 billion gallons of toxic waste in rich fisheries each year, because it is cheaper to dump these wastes into our publicly-owned waterbodies rather than properly treating them. Similarly, Cook Inlet is the only major port in the western hemisphere where laden oil tankers routinely transit notoriously rough and icy waters without the aid of adequately equipped tug vessels. The grounding of the oil tanker Seabulk Pride in February 2006 – laden with nearly 5 million gallons of product – in the heart of Cook Inlet’s salmon fisheries, highlights the risks to public resources posed by corporate decisionmaking.

Today, the Cook Inlet oil & gas industry continues to enjoy public subsidies – in the form of lax permits and rules – found nowhere else in the U.S. As a result, Inletkeeper maintains a meaningful presence in all major incidents and proceedings that involve oil and gas impacts to public water, fish and wildlife resources while also building local momentum for a renewable energy future.

Group of Activists Against Big Oil
Oil & Gas Threats