Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Meetings

Last night, September 15, a public meeting was held at the Aleutians East Borough headquarters building, which I was unable to attend. Essentially, we were told all will be OK, and eventually the borough will get rich. Both of which, I'd imagine, are true enough, so far as they go.

Particular concerns, primarily about the fishing industry, were addressed, and I am told that all left satisfied. As this area now has but the single industry (fishing), it is obvious that we need another source of income and jobs. To all appearances, it appears that, over the long term, these oil, gas, and mining projects will provide great benefit to the local communities with minimal effect upon the environment.

Representatives of the World Wildlife Federation were in attendance, and as might be surmised were entirely against any and all development. Very few (if any) locals voiced determined opposition, but rather various worries about pollution, boom-town crime, etc. Suggestions were noted by the Federal Minerals Management Service, and from what I hear folks seem satisfied.

From what I've heard, this, as well as all other, meetings have gone well for the corporations concerned. Here follows a simple cut and paste of the meetings and places, most all of which have been completed. I include it merely to demonstrate that this is a serious project and not mere wishful thinking. While these meetings concern themselves primarily with oil and gas, there is also great interest in the massive amount of iron ore to be found in this region. There will be much more news as time goes on.

Change is indeed coming to this remote island, and all of South West Alaska.

Seven scoping meetings set for offshore oil, gas lease sales

By Margaret Bauman
Alaska Journal of Commerce

Seven scoping meetings are now scheduled for August and September in the Bristol Bay region to gather information for inclusion in an environmental impact statement for the proposed North Aleutian Basin oil and gas lease sale.

The federal Minerals Management Service has scheduled lease sale 214, for the outer continental shelf of the North Aleutian basin planning area for late 2011.

A draft EIS is to be available to the public in early 2010.

“We are looking for information to include in the EIS; areas we need to study,” said Robin Cacy, spokeswoman for MMS in Anchorage.

These include potential impacts that MMS has not foreseen or that are new since the last time MMS was doing studies in the area and areas with particular ecosystem issues, she said.

“Not everything will make it in (to the EIS), but we are looking at kind of a laundry list of things we need to look at,” she said.

The schedule includes a meeting Aug. 18 from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Lake and Peninsula Borough administration building in King Salmon, and Aug. 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Bristol Bay Borough assembly chambers in Naknek.

On Sept. 2, the MMS will hold its third scoping meeting in the Dillingham City Council Chambers, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Sand Point area residents will have their scoping meeting Sept. 15, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the offices of the Aleutians East Borough. On Sept. 16, MMS will be at the Nelson Lagoon Community Building in Nelson Lagoon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., then head on to Cold Bay to meet with area residents from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Cold Bay Community Center.

The final session is set for 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the King Cover City Council Chambers in King Cove.

Two other scoping sessions were held earlier in the year at Anchorage and Unalaska.

Cacy said MMS staff in attendance at all meetings will answer questions about the proposal and seek input on important environmental, social and economic issues that could arise from offshore lease sales in these areas. MMS will also continue to evaluate issues, if new ones are identified in the future, she said.

For information about the meetings, visit the MMS Alaska OCS region Web site at www.mms.gov/alaska. Cacy can be contacted at (907) 334-5208, toll free at 1-800-746-2627, or via e-mail at akwebmaster@mms.gov.

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