Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Defending Alaska's Interests ...

A story on the Alaska Business Monthly website reports on upcoming testimony by Rep. Charisse Millet and Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commissioner Cathy Foerster before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee ("Millett to Testify to U.S. Senate Energy Committee on Neglected BLM North Slope Legacy Oil and Gas Wells").  They have been asked to testify this Thursday "on the lingering problem of the unplugged and environmentally harmful exploratory oil and gas wells drilled by the federal government within the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska."

These are the wells that the federal government has drilled and left behind unplugged in NPRA.  In some instances, the wells are leaking natural gas; in some others, small quantities of oil.  Rep. Millett sponsored -- and the Alaska Legislature passed -- a resolution during the past legislative session, calling on the BLM to plug the wells properly and reclaim the lands as soon as possible.

It is rare for state legislators and regulators to be asked to testify before a full Congressional Committee in DC.  It often happens during field hearings held in various parts of the country, but rare for a legislator or regulator to be asked to appear before the full committee in DC.  The last legislator from Alaska may have been John Torgerson, when in the Senate.

Rep. Millett's and Commissioner Foerster's appearance indicates both the significance of the issue, and the respect they have gained for their pursuit of it.