People have been warning us for years that drilling for oil in the Alaskan arctic would lead to big environmental trouble. It’s not that the technology hasn’t advanced to the point where it can be done safely, but those nasty people in charge of the projects just don’t care about the environment. These Mother Earth Hating Monsters would clearly let the whole thing go to H. E. double toothpicks and ruin the pristine beauty of the wilderness. Well, I guess they turned out to be right.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has agreed to plug at least one additional abandoned well in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska provided it receives the money to do so.
However, the issue of how or whether to address other so-called legacy well sites in the region remains under discussion between the agency and Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, or AOGCC.
Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed a resolution urging BLM to properly plug and reclaim the well sites as soon as possible, saying they pose “significant risk to surface vegetation, groundwater, fish, land mammals and sea mammals.”
Well, that certainly sounds like bad news. I wonder who was responsible for this mess? BP? Chevron? But wait… if you read back to the first paragraph of that article, it almost sounds as if the US BLM (Bureau of Land Management) is in charge here. How could that be? An what’s a “legacy well?”
BLM manages the abandoned wells, drilled under the government’s direction as part of an exploratory program between 1944 and 1981.
The resolution also states that wood and metal debris and deteriorating buildings at the well sites “litter the landscape and detract from the natural beauty of the Arctic region.”
Keep in mind that all of this is happening as President Obama just finished lecturing the country on climate change, and Ken Salazar exits stage left with no action taken on this issue. The BLM is responsible for the abandoned wells and only 16 of the original 140 have been plugged and reclaimed (7 by Alaskan Native groups, not the BLM). The state of Alaska’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission been asking BLM officials to clean up the mess this is creating.
Of course, the BLM is crying poverty, but as far back as last Summer, even Lisa Murkowski wasn’t buying it.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski called the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s approach to addressing abandoned wells in the Alaska Arctic an “embarrassment” to the federal government.
Her comments on July 12 came during a Senate hearing she requested in Washington, D.C., focused on the cleanup of so-called legacy wells in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Murkowski, R-Alaska, said it’s the “height of hypocrisy” that the federal government doesn’t live up to the same standards that it holds private industry to in plugging and reclaiming well sites.
You can read more about the various toxic sites in Alaska here, and you’ll find the BLM’s fingerprints over more than a few pages. But in the eyes of the current administration, it’s far more important to place the blame on the private oil industry, jack up their taxes, and drive up the price of their products so you won’t mind paying extra for algae powered lights. I’ll give these folks credit for one thing… they’re nothing if not consistent.