2017-2022 Proposed Final Program Frequently Asked Questions - Alaska

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What is being proposed in Alaska?

The Proposed Final Program offers one sale off the coast of Alaska. In Alaska, the Proposed Final Program identifies one potential sale in Cook Inlet (Sale 258).

What is different for Alaska in this Proposed Final Program from the current Five Year Program?

The 2017–2022 Proposed Program proposes one lease sale in Cook Inlet. It does not propose any sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

What is the basis for the Environmentally Important Area (EIA) identified in the Cook Inlet Program?

Stakeholders provided valuable information and data on sensitive ecological and cultural areas in the various Program Areas during the scoping process for the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) and in comments provided on the Draft PEIS. BOEM internal experts did the same.

In Cook Inlet, the EIA was developed based on comments received and existing critical habitat for the Cook Inlet Distinct Population Segment of beluga whale, which is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Due to its narrowed geographic scope as compared to the Cook Inlet Planning Area, the design of the 2017–2022 Cook Inlet Program Area allows for the protection of the endangered beluga whale, and for protection of the northern sea otter critical habitat, with the availability for leasing of the areas with greatest industry interest and significant oil and gas resource potential.

Will the lease sale proposed for the Alaska region be late in the program as they were last time?

Yes. Cook Inlet Sale 258 is proposed for 2021.

Why was the Arctic removed from the program?

Many factors went into the Secretary’s decision to remove the Arctic from the upcoming Five Year Program. Arctic ecological conditions, environmental risks and recent changes in industry interest contributed to this decision.

The Arctic OCS is remote, and currently has limited infrastructure that will require substantial new investment for large-scale OCS development. Considering the unique Arctic ecosystem and the recent demonstrated decline in industry interest, the Proposed Final Program does not include lease sales in the Chukchi or Beaufort Seas.

With existing U.S. onshore crude production, which has increased every year since 2008, and substantial Gulf of Mexico offshore production already in place, the U.S. is well-positioned to meet its domestic energy needs and reduce its dependence on foreign oil.

Does this mean the Arctic is permanently removed from the program?

The Arctic has been removed from the next Five Year Program, which runs through mid-2022.

How does removing the Arctic affect the estimates of oil and gas available for the nation?

BOEM estimates that cumulative U.S. oil and gas production will be less than one percent lower without the Arctic OCS lease sales over the 70-year life of projected activity and only four percent lower during the 2017-2022 Program’s years of peak production. The Nation’s energy security remains strong and essentially unchanged without leasing in the Arctic.

How will the Arctic standards rule affect this Proposed Final Program?

The Proposed Final Program does not include any sales in the Arctic. There are 43 active leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea Planning Areas. Should an operator propose open water exploration on those leases, the operator will need to meet the new requirements imposed by the Arctic rule.