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Road to Umiat EIS: Public Comment Period Extends to July 26

Despite major, publicized opposition from North Slope Communities and others, the Alaska Legislature authorized $8 million more to complete an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Umiat Road, as requested by Gov. Parnell. The Corps of Engineers moved quickly to begin EIS scoping. You can get involved by providing comments.

Road to Umiat EIS: Public Comment Period Extends to July 26

Colville River

Despite major, publicized opposition from North Slope Communities and others, the Alaska Legislature authorized $8 million more to complete an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Umiat Road.  Corps of Engineers moved quickly to begin EIS scoping.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD: Provide Comments by July 26, 2011! 

Click here to Submit a Comment.

Click here for more about the Road to Umiat EIS.

See updated Road to Umiat Map (2012).

Click here for Road to Umiat Map (2011) and see below for questions and concerns.

 

The proposed 100-mile long Road to Umiat would connect the Dalton Highway across remote foothills to the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, bridging four major rivers including: the Colville, Anaktuvuk, Chandler, and Itkillik Rivers.    Starting from the Dalton Highway near Toolik / Galbraith Lake Research Natural Area, it would track north of Gates of the Arctic National Park, and cross subsistence areas for caribou, moose, brown bear, muskoxen, furbearers, whitefish, anadromous fish, and plants of importance to local communities. 

The Road to Umiat (aka Foothills West Transportation Access Project) would cost at least $400 million.  Some say to expect more - perhaps $600 million.  Many Roads to Resources projects have dead ended after millions of Alaskan dollars spent.   The Umiat Road is just the latest example of how Alaska spends millions on roads and bridges without financial plans to complete the projects.  And it would cost untold millions per year to maintain.  

If you build it, will they come?  The State's stated goal is to connect industry with oil and gas lease areas for exploration and development.  Yet the state has admitted that very little is known about its energy resources and ADNR received $370,000 more to get critical data necessary for assessing  feasibility of the resource development in the area.  And the Umiat Road is speculative: it would not connect to any actual planned development project, and Anadarko abandoned 90 state leases in this area in 2010-2011 (Anchorage Daily News, 16 April 2011).    

Though the EIS process will provide more opportunities for public comment, Governor Parnell's aggressive push to build this road at all costs is disturbing because the State has clearly ignored the resolutions passed by those who live in the affected region.   The appropriation came after several entities formally opposed funding for the road due to concerns over its impacts to subsistence resources, including North Slope Fish and Wildlife Advisory Committee, Naqsramiut Tribal Council, and the City of Anaktuvuk Pass.

Read what others are saying about the Umiat Road: 

-- Anaktuvuk Pass residents fear impact of road (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

-- Permitting work begins on Foothills West road to Umiat (Alaska  Journal of Commerce)

-- North Slope tribal councils wants Umiat Road out of budget (Arctic  Sounder)

--Road to Umiat would Destroy Subsistence Lifestyle (Alaska Dispatch)

The Road to Umiat raises many other questions and concerns:

 ·         While roads around Fairbanks and across Alaska remain in disrepair, this half-billion dollar project advances.  Does this make sense?  

·         There is no plan to fund these projects in their entirety so they will continue to be financial burdens on Alaskans.  What will be the total cost of the full project, including the whole road and Phase 2 bridge across the Colville River?

·         What will be the full operating & maintenance costs for the life of the Umiat Road? 

·         How much public money has gone into Dalton Road operations, maintenance & reconstruction?

·         This project is a huge subsidy to the oil and gas industry.  Why should public funds be used to build permanent roads to access speculative exploration?

·         This project takes working capital away from other transportation projects that really need funding.  We should be pursuing projects that people want, not ones opposed by local residents, as we expressed to the Alaska Legislature.

·         Even if it were closed for awhile to the public, the Dalton Highway example shows that eventually the Umiat Road would be opened to public access, despite earlier commitments.

·         The state says this road will be an industrial road, not built to public highway standards.  What is the difference, how would it be different than the Dalton Highway since trucks hauling equipment, drill rigs, etc. would be using it?

·         By cutting through the 5-mile Dalton Highway Corridor that protects subsistence resources from off-road vehicle use, won't the Road to Umiat effectively end the hard-fought buffer zone for a vast region?

·         What would be the cumulative impacts of the Umiat Road to fish, wildlife, recreation, subsistence, rescue and law enforcement requirements, rivers, clean air, water quality, and other values of our public lands in this sensitive Arctic Region?

 The Umiat Road could transform a huge area of the Arctic. 

 Your voice can make a difference!   

 Please come to a public meeting to learn, ask questions, and testify.

Or you can submit a comment by July 26, 2011:

http://www.foothillswesteis.com/ 

For more information: 

Pam Miller or Pete Dronkers, 907-452-4021

 

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