Mayor Eben Hopson has initiated the NSB's Arctic Coastal Zone Management Program which will include the NSB's work with:
1. The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)
Program, U.S. Department of Interior
2. The Beaufort Sea Near-Shore/Off-Shore program, State of Alaska
3. The Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 4 (NPR-4)
4. Circumpolar Inupiat community organization in support of multi-national Arctic coastal zone management cooperation between the U.S., Canada,Denmark (Greenland), and the USSR (Siberia).
1. The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)
Program, U.S. Department of Interior
Under the Nixon-Ford administration the Department of Interior scheduled a series of Alaskan OCS lease sales that included a Beaufort Sea sale for March, 1977. The NSB joined with the State of Alaska in objecting to this sale on the grounds that the oil industry lacked proven technology able to operate off-shore in the ice environment of the Beaufort outer-continental shelf three miles off-shore where Federal jurisdiction begins. At the request of Governor Jay Hammond, the U.S. Department of Interior has recently deferred the Beaufort OCS lease sale, and will cooperate with the State of Alaska in a joint near-shore lease sale in the area between the Prudhoe Bay oil field and Harrison Bay. Both the Federal and State governments claim jurisdiction over this area because of disputed NPR-4 boundary calculations, and the case is before the Federal courts.
After nearly three years of planning and paperwork,Union Oil's East Harrison Bay III exploratory well will be sunk this winter using an ice island that has recently been developed near the Jones Islands in East Harrison Bay. Plans are to move a rig onto this ice island in late February, and to rig down within 60 days of spudding the well. This will be the first off-shore exploration on the U.S. side of the Beaufort Sea. NSB staff and officials regard the project to be relatively safe because it will occur in a shallow, sheltered, ice-fast near-shore area on a carefully-constructed ice island designed to contain the result of a blow-out should one occur. This project appears to be typical of the manner in which both Federal and State officials would like to see the industry begin to learn about Beaufort Sea off-shore operations.....edging out on the ice carefully, on a step-by-step basis. Union Oil is pioneering this process. Union, Texaco-Shell, and ARCO-BP bought leases in East Harrison Bay in the 1969 State Prudhoe Bay lease sale.
Established by Sec.lOS(c)of PL 94-258, Naval Petroleum
Reserves Act of 1976, the NPR-4 Task Force is".....to determine the
values of, and best uses for, the lands contained in the reserve...."
under the direction of the Assistant Secretary of Interior - Program
Development and Budget. The President's Office of Management and
Budget (OMB) has reportedly approved of an $8 million, 2-year budget
for this work. Interior's Bureau of Land Management is the lead
agency for the NPR-4 Task Force which includes representatives of the
State of Alaska, the NSB, and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation.
The Task Force agencies will organize into seven Task Groups in which
a total of 36 new Federal Civil Service positions will be
Task Group 1: Native Livelihood and Dependence
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) - Lead
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS)
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Alaska Department of Community and
Regional Affairs (ADCRA)
Task Group 2: Recreation, Scenery, Wilderness
Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (BOR) - Lead
National Park Service (NPS)
Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC)
North Slope Borough (NSB)
Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR)
Task Group 3: Fish and Wildlife
Task Group 4: Historical
Task Group 5: Minerals
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM)
Task Group 6: Geology & Hydrology
Task Group 7: Public Facilities and Communities
The NSB was responsible for the language of Sec. 105(c) of PL 94-258. Congressman (now Senator) John Melcher (D) - Montana, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands came to Barrow in 1975 to ask Mayor Eben Hopson to send a team to Washington, D.C. to work with the Conference Committee on HR-49 to insure that the interests of the NSB Inupiat community were protected. The NPR-4 Task Force may provide a good model for future inter-governmental cooperative coastal zone management elsewhere along the Arctic Coast, and in other regions in Alaska.
In response to Arctic off-shore oil and gas operations in the Davis Strait (Greenland), the Northwest Territories (Archipelago and Mackenzie Bay, Hudson Bay) and Interior's OCS plans in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, the NSB set out to organize the circumpolar Inupiat community to work toward a single set of rules for all Arctic shelf operations as a means of protecting the environmental security of the people of the NSB. In March, 1976, representatives of the Greenlander's Association from Sisimiut and Copenhagen joined Canadian Inupiat land claims leaders in Barrow to plan the first Inuit Circumpolar Conference. Originally scheduled for November, 1976, it was re-scheduled for June 13, 1977.
In a significant move toward Circumpolar Inupiat Community solidarity, the ASRC has extended a line of credit to COPE of Inuvik, NWT for use in pursuing the Canadian Western Arctic Inupiat land claims settlement. COPE has recently assumed the leadership of the NWT Western Arctic claims effort after the Inuit Tapirisat withdrew their land claims settlement proposal for the entire NWT last fall. COPE President Sam Raddi met with the ASRC Board of Directors in Barrow on January 5-6 to seek aid for his land claims effort both in the form of money and advice and consultation. Conversations leading to the aid agreement began last March when Raddi came to Barrow to attend the pre-conference hosted by the NSB to plan the agenda for the first Inuit Circumpolar Conference. So far as is known, this is the first time that an Alaskan Native regional corporation, established under the terms of the historic Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, has extended financial aid to the Native Land Claims Movement in Canada. The ASRC-COPE aid agreement symbolizes the international character of the Native Land Claims Movement, and underscores the importance of this Movement to successful international international coastal zone resource development in the Arctic, and wherever else in the world that indigenous coastal communities transcend national political boundaries.
The Navy Department has approved a new price structure for gas from the South Barrow gas field which will lower the price of gas to Barrow consumers from $.50 per thousand cubic feet (MCF) to $.32.4 per MCF. Federal agencies operating in Barrow will pay $.61.4 per MCF. Both rates are retroactive to April 5, 1976. The Navy had tried to raise Barrow gas rates to $.76 per MCF, but this move was blocked by the NSB in Washington, D.C. by lobbying successfully for the inclusion of Sec. 104(e) of PL 94-258, Naval Petroleum Reserves Act of 1976, which directed the Secretary of the Navy to set new equitable rates to Barrow residents for gas from the South Barrow Gas field, directing that amortization of Federal investment could not be included in the rate base. The NSB regards this action to reinforce its plans to convince national energy policy planners to adopt an Arctic Community Energy Policy that will fuel Arctic communities with low-cost gas from nearby gas fields and gas pipelines as part of the overhead for Arctic energy resource development.
According to Bob DeLury, a staff biologist with the Committee for Original Peoples Entitlement (COPE), Inuvik, NWT, in Barrow with Sam Raddi, the controversial Dome Oil/CANMAR (Canadian Marine) Beaufort OCS exploration off the Tuktoyuktuk Peninsula has been plagued by costly accidents. On one of the drilling ships last fall a shaker room explosion killed one man and injured another when an electrical spark ignited methane gas from recovered drilling mud. But a potentially more serious mishap closed down operations of the drilling ship Explorer II on Hunt Oil's Koponar Well. Through a series of miscalculations in the construction of well casing, including drilling to 10,000 feet without completing supportive casing, a blowout of high-pressure fresh water encountered at 6,000 feet caused the fresh water to boil up and erode around the outside of the partially completed structure causing it to tip over. A relief well had to be drilled to seal off the blowout. The episode resulted in a loss estimated at $30 million. This incident has been shrouded in secrecy and rumor. Alaska Congressman DonYoung told the Press Club in Anchorage last October that he understood that sabotage, rather than inadequate technology, was to blame for the blowout, but DeLury said that there have been no such allegations heard in Canada. During this episode, the Explorer II was visited by Canada's new Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Warren Allmand, whose ministry oversees oil and gas operations in the NWT. The blowout beneath the ship was kept secret from the Minister during his visit, and he was kept in ignorance of it until he was informed of the problem by newspaper reporter Peter Redvers in a taped interview at the Tuktoyuktuk airport just before Allmand departed the area. COPE officials report that the incident is under secret investigation by the Canadian government. COPE has called for a full public inquiry, but DIAND has refused.
The NSB Game Management Committee, established in response to the State Game Board's decision to limit caribou hunting among the Western Arctic herd, issued a press release in early January challenging the reliability of Fish & Game's Caribou count used to justify the first hunting restrictions on caribou in the history of Arctic Alaska. The NSB Game Management Committee members question the accuracy of the State's caribou census. And they suspect that much of the Western Arctic herd, which the State believes has crashed to as few as 50,000 animals, may be stranded with the Porcupine herd which migrates between the Mackenzie Valley and Anaktuvuk Pass, and 300 to 400 miles inland. It is felt that the construction of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline and the heavy traffic along the Fairbanks-Prudhoe Bay haul road may have interrupted normal migration and interaction between the Porcupine and Western Arctic herds. The appearance of large numbers of caribou in the Barrow-Wainwright area, as well as on the winter grazing area along the Shungnak River in the Kotzebue region, lead local hunters to doubt the accuracy of Fish and Game's census methods which appear to involve doubtful gadgetry. However, the Department of Fish and Game stands by its position that caribou hunting must be severely restricted if the Western Arctic herd is to survive, and has threatened to fly game officers into Barrow in force if necessary to enforce hunting restrictions. It is estimated that the annual Western Arctic caribou harvest is 25,000 animals that dress out at an average of 100 lbs of meat. The State has restricted the annual harvest to 3,000 animals. The NSB takes the position that caribou management is an important part of Arctic Coastal Zone Management. And effective and accurate caribou management must involve a cooperative U.S./Canadian effort. In the meantime, NSB officials are researching the question of liability of Alyeska Pipeline Service Corporation and the possibility of compensation from the $100 million Trans-Alaska Pipeline liability fund created by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act.