The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC) has developed a regulatory program for two subsurface (onshore/offshore) methods of drilling and production waste disposal: underground injection and annular disposal. contains the regulations of the AOGCC. Waste management other than underground injection or annular disposal, from the state perspective, is regulated by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) under .
Plans to drill for oil in the ANWR should be rejected to preserve and protect the key species and overall biodiversity of the ecosystem as the environmental damage to wildlife incurred from oil drilling and development outweighs potential economic benefits. Congress is urged to reject all plan proposals to drill within the Refuge and inform the public on the imminent threats to crucial wildlife species that inhabit the ANWR. As Clough, Patton, and Christiansen (1987) describe in their report, there are regulations put in place by the Council on Environmental Quality that “require that when no information is available as to reasonably foreseeable significant adverse impacts, an agency must evaluate those impacts… which could be expected to result in “catastrophic” consequences if they do occur” (Clough, Patton, & Christiansen, 1987, p. 108). Since more research needs to be done on the effects of oil drilling in the ANWR there should be no drilling unless we are confident in our knowledge about all potential impacts on wildlife and are sure that these impacts will be outweighed by potential benefits.
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Polar bears are also a major concern when considering of the harmful effects oil drilling. Being the world’s largest land carnivore and one of the most widely recognized and charismatic species, it is no wonder that many people are extremely concerned about how polar bears would be affected if drilling in the Refuge occurs. Approximately 1,500 polar bears reside in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014, para. 2); one of only two subpopulations of polar bears in the United States which is known as the Southern Beaufort Sea population. Sadly, as it turns out, this population is facing a very real threat in the face of arctic oil drilling.
These 2 charts explain why Shell stopped drilling in Alaska
The porcupine caribou herd come to the coastal plains of the 1002 area for calving every year in late May. The calving occurs on coastal plains due to the fact that the plains are usually free of snow by this time and due to the amount of vegetation, which increases camouflage and decreases predation. They give birth to the calves here (usually one per adult female) and stay in the nutrient rich habitat for about 3 weeks (Clough, Patton, & Christiansen, 1987, p. 25). Due to the high numbers of caribou that come to this area it has been regarded as a concentrated calving zone. According to Clough, Patton, & Christiansen (1987), concentrated calving zones are the most essential areas due to the fact that they have the highest caribou densities and maintain the largest number of parturient females, caribou that are about to give birth or caribou that have just given birth, and their calves. Since this area is so critical for calving, disturbances caused by oil drilling would most likely both decrease the population of the porcupine caribou herd and displace the herd to other, less suitable, calving sites outside of the 1002 area. Drilling in this area could be problematic for the herd in many ways.
Shell Suspends Oil Drilling Effort In Alaska's Arctic Waters
Many wildlife species rely on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for their habitat including polar bears, musk oxen and wolverines. However, the species that relies heaviest on the ANWR is the caribou, specifically the porcupine caribou herd. According to the last census performed by the Porcupine Caribou Management Board (2014), the population of the porcupine caribou herd is currently at around 197,000 individuals (PCMB, 2014, p. i). This makes it the fifth largest herd of migratory caribou in North America (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013c, p.1). The majority of the year caribou’s habitat ranges from Northeastern Alaska into Northwestern Canada with an exception of summer where they migrate to an annual calving ground (Griffith et. al, 2002, p.15). Most of these crucial calving grounds are located on the coastal plain of the ANWR and in the 1002 area where oil been discovered. If the 1002 area is available for oil exploration and drilling, it will play a major role on the caribous’ lifestyle.