The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management formally rejected requests to extend the public comment period on the proposed Cook Inlet lease sale on Thursday.
Bob Shavelson is the Executive Director of Cook Inletkeeper. He says that the timing of the public comment period excluded many Kenai Peninsula residents who were traveling or fishing over the summer.
“The federal government issued its public notice in the middle of the July when everyone was fishing. No one had the opportunity to digest the 600 plus pages of the Environmental Impact Statement and make reasonable comments,” said Shavelson.
Several other organizations also submitted requests for an extension of the public comment period, including United Cook Inlet Drift Association, the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The proposed lease sale covers just over one million acres on the outer continental shelf in Cook Inlet.
If approved, companies would bid on rights to explore, develop and extract oil and natural gas in the region. The bidding process would begin in June 2017.
By law, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management must conduct an environmental analysis and solicit public testimony before the lease sale can be approved.
The Environmental Impact Statement for the Cook Inlet Lease sale can be found online at www.boem.gov/ak244. Comments on the proposal can also be submitted on this website.
The 45-day public comment period began on July 22 and ends September 6.