Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve may soon see a fleet of new oil rigs (HCN, 1/20/03: Refuge back in the crosshairs). The Bureau of Land Management has just released its draft environmental impact statement for drilling in the reserve. Depending on which alternative the agency chooses, anywhere from 4.1 million to 8.8 million acres will be newly opened to oil and gas leasing. The public comment period is open until March 18.
Environmental laws are getting in the way of
national security again — so the Pentagon is gearing up to
ask Congress for more exemptions (HCN, 1/20/03: 84-year-old bird
law no match for the military). In January, an internal Defense
Department memo was leaked to the nonprofit watchdog group Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The memo outlines the
Pentagon’s plans to lobby Congress for exemptions from CERCLA
(or Superfund), the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and
the Clean Water Act.
Terry Lynn Barton, a former
Forest Service employee, has pleaded guilty to both state
and federal charges of arson for setting last summer’s
137,000-acre Hayman Fire in central Colorado (HCN, 7/8/02: The tail
of a dragon?). Barton is expected to receive 18 years of prison
The Interior Department has
decided that a coal-fired power plant near Yellowstone
National Park will not have an "adverse effect" on the park after
all (HCN, 9/2/02: Bush's energy push meets unintended
consequences). At the end of 2002, the National Park Service
recommended against the plant, citing concerns that it would ruin
air quality in the park and two nearby wilderness areas. But in
mid-January, an Interior official withdrew that recommendation,
and, according to Park Service officials, went above their heads to
give a green light to the plant.
oil industry has claimed that most of the Rocky Mountain
West is off-limits to oil and gas drilling, an Interior
Department report has found otherwise (HCN, 9/2/02: Backlash).
According to the report, which was ordered by former President
Clinton in 2000, of 59 million acres of federal land in Colorado,
New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Montana, 61 percent — or about
36 million acres — is open to energy leasing.