The House today – with no opposition – voted to tell the federal government to clean up the mess it left behind in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska.
Approximately 137 exploratory wells were drilled by the federal government in the NPR-A between 1944 and 1981. The Resolution passed today says that only seven of them have been cleaned up, three of them have been lost, and forty two sites are in such condition that – if they were in the hands of private owners – the environmental fines alone would total $8-Billion. And although the Bureau of Land Management has been requested to finish reclamation of the abandoned wells, the Department of the Interior most recently has said it would clean up only three sites per year.
Anchorage Republican Charisse Millett, the resolution’s sponsor, calls it an environmental disgrace – and a hypocrisy.
They have made $9-Billion in lease sales from the outer continental shelf and from NPR-A. Nine Billion dollars. The last well they capped they said cost $16-million. I would argue that we could probably – as Alaskans, a little boost to our economy and jobs – we could probably take those wells and have them done in two or three seasons, given the right funding.
Bethel Democrat Bob Herron said that during a hearing on the issue, he had specifically asked a representative of the Bureau of Land Management to apologize for the condition in which his agency has left the environment.
Turns out, no surprise, the feds do not say “we’re sorry.”
With thirty-five house members signed on as co-sponsors to the resolution, the measure passed with no opposition. It will next appear on the agenda of the Senate.