Today the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) released its draft proposed Five-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program 2012-17, which unfortunately includes oil and gas lease sales in the Arctic. While the decision to include Arctic lease sales in the 2012-2017 program is disappointing, Oceana applauds BOEM’s new approach to leasing in the Arctic, which will:
“BOEM’s move towards a precautionary, science-based approach in the Arctic is an important policy shift that mirrors the Arctic Fishery Management Plan developed by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council,” said Dr. Chris Krenz with ocean conservation group Oceana. “Important ecological areas, which are environmentally sensitive areas, are the pillars of an ecosystem; protecting them will help maintain ecosystem health from plankton to people.” Oceana is conducting research with Arctic community organizations to identify important ecological areas in the region and produce an atlas of those areas.
In the lease for 2012-2017 BOEM has tried to build in time for Arctic research and study. Additionally BOEM has acknowledge that they will be relying on the synthesis and integration of science in the Arctic, and use the Arctic USGS report issued earlier this year. The USGS report identified large missing gaps in ecosystem science.
The new direction, however, does not address significant deficiencies in lease sales held pursuant to the 2002-07 and 2007-12 Five-Year Leasing Programs. These activities should not proceed and new lease sales should not be held until basic scientific information and demonstrated response capacity are available.
“BOEM has taken one step forward by better targeting lease sales,” stated Oceana Pacific Senior Council, Michael LeVine. “At the same time, it has taken two steps backward by committing to lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Moving forward without basic science or demonstrated response capacity continues failed policies of the past that have led to controversy and litigation.”
The vibrancy and biodiversity of Arctic communities and ecosystems depend on how we manage development. Oceana will continue to work towards ensuring that development will not harm ecosystem health, which includes subsistence activities.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 500,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.