Native Americans Join Coalition Seeking Federal Leases for Oil and Gas Production at Alaska's North Slope

Jake Baker  ·  November 01, 2016  ·  Featured, Economy

By Penny Starr

( - The Arctic Energy Center announced last week that a coalition of Alaskans are petitioning the federal government to grant leases for oil and gas exploration and production in and offshore of the North Slope, including the Inupiat tribe.

"Arctic Iñupiat Offshore (AIO) announced today that it is joining the Arctic Coalition, a collection of 21 Alaskan and nationwide organizations that support responsible energy development in and off the coast of Alaska," the announcement stated. "The group is calling on the Obama administration to listen to the views and perspectives of Alaska residents and keep Alaska's Arctic offshore acreage in the forthcoming federal energy leasing program.

"Formed in July 2014, AIO is a joint venture of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and six North Slope village corporations, created to allow native communities to invest directly in energy-related projects in and near their areas," the announcement said. "In total, the organizations collectively represent around 13,000 Iñupiat people."

The AIO and the Arctic Energy Center, another coalition member, also announced an ad campaign "aimed at highlighting local North Slope communities' perspectives on energy development in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas."

"We've got to be a part of everything that happens to safeguard our natural resources," Joseph Ahmaogak, chairman of the Ukpeagvik Corporation and tribe member says in the television ad. "A safe and responsible development can happen up here on the North Slope."

"We're very supportive of offshore development," Anthony E. Ewardsen, president and CEO of Olgoonik Corporation and tribe member, said in the ad.

"The decisions that we make today will benefit our children, grandchildren for generations," Ahmaogak said.

The Alaska Dispatch News reported that Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has nominated the two seas (Beaufort and Chukchi) to be part of the federal government's five-year offshore leasing program (2017-2022), which Walker shared with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell when she took part recently in the Alaska Federation of Natives convention earlier this month.

"Jewell is expected to decide whether the lease sales remain in the program before President Obama leaves office Jan. 20," the Dispatch News reported. "The sales are strongly opposed by conservation groups seeking to stop offshore oil and gas exploration in the remote region, while many Alaskans support development there.

"In addition to numerous sales in the Gulf of Mexico, the federal government's draft plan calls for one lease sale in the Beaufort in 2020 and another in the Chukchi in 2022," the article stated. "A sale is also planned for federal waters in Cook Inlet in southcentral Alaska in 2021, a less contentious area that Walker also formally nominated for a lease sale."


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Alaska, Energy, Gas Chambers, Oil, North Slope, Native Americans, Arctic Energy, Alaskans

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