Billion with a “B.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released Armstrong Energy’s plans for its billion-plus-barrel Nanushuk oil project on the North Slope. Alaska Journal of Commerce reported Wednesday that the project in the Pikka Unit is expected to produce about 120,000 barrels per day of conventional light oil at its peak rate. Company CEO Bill Armstrong says an exploratory well and sidetrack drilled last winter about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of the project area indicated the reservoir could hold more than 2 billion barrels of oil. The company is proposing three gravel drill sites just near the Colville River delta to hold a total of 146 production and injection wells. A central processing facility to improve the oil to sales quality would also be located on the northernmost drill site pad.
I am the Walrus. Blubbery, clam-loving Pacific walruses are surprisingly resilient to the dramatic loss of polar sea ice as the planet warms and won’t be listed as an endangered species, the federal government announced early Wednesday. The decision is controversial. A scientist for a group that works to protect endangered animals called it a Trump administration “death sentence for the walrus.” But Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, the state’s all-Republican congressional delegation, Native hunters, Arctic Slope Regional Corp. and the state Department of Fish and Game all said it was the right call. “This decision will allow for the continued responsible harvest of Pacific walrus for subsistence and traditional uses by Alaska Natives,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in a written statement. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2008 began evaluating whether to provide extra protection to walruses under the Endangered Species Act, after the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the government. Years of court review and study culminated in the announcement.
Delay methane rule. The U.S. Interior Department will propose this week delaying parts of an Obama-era rule to limit methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands, a rule Congress upheld earlier in the year, a document showed on Wednesday. Under the rule, finalized by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management(BLM) two months before former president Barack Obama left office, oil and gas operators on public lands must prevent the leaking, venting and flaring of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The administration of President Donald Trump has sought to do away with the rule, viewing it as excessive environmental regulation. BLM has proposed delaying the rule’s implementation until Jan. 17, 2019 as it reviews Obama’s regulation, according to the document, scheduled to be published on Thursday in the Federal Register. The document can be seen here: bit.ly/2xZ5BPc
Climate science drama. Joel Clement, a scientist and policy expert, was removed from his job by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and reassigned to an accounting position for which he has no experience. Clement was among dozens of senior executive service personnel who were quickly, and perhaps unlawfully, reassigned in June, but he was the only person who spoke out. Interior’s inspector general is probing the reassignments to determine whether the process was legal. By law, executives are to be given ample notice of a job switch. Many of those reassigned say they were given no notice, according to attorneys who are representing some of the employees. The inspector general said Clement is on the list of employees being contacted, though Clement and his lawyer say that hasn’t happened in the more than two months since the evaluation launched.
Plans Released for Nanushuk Oil Project on North Slope
US News and World Report, October 5, 2017
Walruses adapt to loss of sea ice and are not endangered, feds say
Alaska Dispatch News, Lisa Demer, October 4, 2017
Trump admin plans to delay methane controls from oil, gas
Reuters, Timothy Gardner, October 4, 2017
Interior Department whistleblower resigns, calling Ryan Zinke’s leadership a failure
Washington Post, Darryl Fears, October 4, 2017