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28th Legislature(2013-2014)

Bill Text 28th Legislature


00 Enrolled HJR 6                                                                                                          
01 Relating to legacy wells and legacy well sites; urging the United States Department of the                              
02 Interior, Bureau of Land Management, to open new areas of the National Petroleum Reserve -                              
03 Alaska for environmentally responsible oil and gas development; and requesting the Office of                            
04 the Governor to increase nationwide awareness about legacy wells and well sites.                                        
05                                          _______________                                                                
06 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:                                                             
07      WHEREAS the United States Navy and the United States Geological Survey drilled                                   
08 approximately 137 wells on federal land in northern Alaska between 1944 and 1981, all of                                
09 which are now abandoned; and                                                                                            
10      WHEREAS the United States Bureau of Land Management is the current operator of                                   
11 the abandoned wells, now referred to by the United States Bureau of Land Management as                                  
12 legacy wells; and                                                                                                       
13      WHEREAS the United States Bureau of Land Management inappropriately calls the                                    
14 abandoned drill sites "legacy wells," a term that does not adequately connote the disastrous                            
01 legacy of negligence and the environmental damage inflicted by the wells on the Arctic                                  
02 landscape, and the term "travesty wells" better describes the nature of the abandoned wells;                            
03 and                                                                                                                     
04      WHEREAS only 17 of the travesty wells have been properly plugged and reclaimed;                                  
05 and                                                                                                                     
06      WHEREAS 10 of the travesty wells were determined by the Alaska Oil and Gas                                       
07 Conservation Commission to be of no concern because they were drilled to less than 50 feet                              
08 in depth, were drilled solely for soil stability data, did not encounter hydrocarbons, were never                       
09 cased, and have healed and revegetated; and                                                                             
10      WHEREAS the remaining travesty wells are out of compliance with the regulations                                  
11 adopted by the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission; and                                                          
12      WHEREAS at least 10 of the travesty wells out of compliance with the regulations                                 
13 adopted by the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission currently leak hydrocarbons,                                  
14 have leaked hydrocarbons in the past, or have a high potential to leak hydrocarbons in the                              
15 future; and                                                                                                             
16      WHEREAS three of the travesty wells can no longer be found; and                                                  
17      WHEREAS the changing geography of the Arctic puts additional travesty wells at                                   
18 risk of being lost before remediation can occur; and                                                                    
19      WHEREAS the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has repeatedly                                            
20 reminded the federal government of the obligation to plug travesty wells properly and to                                
21 reclaim travesty well sites; and                                                                                        
22      WHEREAS the travesty wells that have not been properly plugged and reclaimed                                     
23 pose a significant risk to surface vegetation, groundwater, fish, land mammals, and sea                                 
24 mammals; and                                                                                                            
25      WHEREAS wood and metal debris and deteriorating buildings at the sites of the                                    
26 travesty wells litter the landscape and detract from the natural beauty of the Arctic region; and                       
27      WHEREAS the federal government has received $9,480,946,486 from lease sales in                                   
28 the National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska and the outer continental shelf of the state and                                
29 should use a portion of those funds to plug and reclaim travesty wells in the state; and                                
30      WHEREAS the state cannot impose fines on the federal government for violating the                                
31 regulations of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, but if it could do so, the                               
01 fines would exceed $8,000,000,000; if the statute of limitations were disregarded, the fines                            
02 would exceed $40,000,000,000; and                                                                                       
03      WHEREAS both state and federal regulations require the plugging and reclamation of                               
04 travesty wells, and the federal government would not allow a private entity to remain in                                
05 violation of those regulations; and                                                                                     
06      WHEREAS the National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska was created in 1923 specifically                                 
07 for oil and gas leasing, exploration, and production; and                                                               
08      WHEREAS the United States Congress mandated a program of oil and gas leasing                                     
09 within the National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska in 1980, opening the petroleum reserve to                                
10 future development; and                                                                                                 
11      WHEREAS future oil and gas production from the National Petroleum Reserve -                                      
12 Alaska could boost throughput in the Trans Alaska Pipeline System and create new jobs and                               
13 revenue for the state and the federal government;                                                                       
14      BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature wishes to replace the term                                      
15 "legacy wells" with the term "travesty wells" so that all people will understand the long                               
16 history of negligence and hypocrisy on the part of the federal government, especially the                               
17 United States Bureau of Land Management, for failing to live up to its mission statement by                             
18 properly plugging and remediating the well sites; and be it                                                           
19      FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States                                       
20 Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, to plug travesty wells properly and                              
21 to reclaim the travesty well sites as soon as possible in order to protect the environment in the                       
22 Arctic region; and be it                                                                                                
23      FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States                                       
24 Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, to work collaboratively with the                                 
25 Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and other entities in the state to plug travesty                             
26 wells and reclaim travesty well sites; and be it                                                                        
27      FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States                                       
28 Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, to comply with state regulations and                             
29 to use best practices when plugging travesty wells and reclaiming travesty well sites; and be it                        
30      FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States                                       
31 Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, to consider turning over the                                     
01 responsibility for plugging travesty wells and reclaiming travesty well sites to an entity,                             
02 preferably an entity that hires residents with Arctic expertise, that could expertly perform the                        
03 work in compliance with federal and state regulations with greater cost-effectiveness; and be                           
04 it                                                                                                                      
05      FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States                                       
06 Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, to take more action to plug travesty                             
07 wells and reclaim travesty well sites safely so that the Arctic environment suffers no further                          
08 harm; and be it                                                                                                         
09      FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature respectfully requests the                                     
10 Office of the Governor to disseminate information through appropriate national news outlets                             
11 and by other available means to increase awareness nationwide of the dangerous conditions of                            
12 the travesty wells and travesty well sites in the state and the federal government's failure to                         
13 plug the travesty wells properly and reclaim the travesty well sites; and be it                                         
14      FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States                                       
15 Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, to open new areas of the National                                
16 Petroleum Reserve Alaska for environmentally responsible oil and gas development that will                              
17 increase throughput in the Trans Alaska Pipeline System and ensure the state plays an even                              
18 larger role in making our country energy independent.                                                                   
19      COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable Barack Obama, President of                              
20 the United States; the Honorable Sally Jewell, United States Secretary of the Interior; Neil                            
21 Kornze, Principal Deputy Director, Bureau of Land Management, United States Department                                  
22 of the Interior; and the Honorable Lisa Murkowski and the Honorable Mark Begich, U.S.                                   
23 Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, U.S. Representative, members of the Alaska                                       
24 delegation in Congress.                                                                                                 
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