August 24, 2011 PRESS RELEASE For immediate release.
Alaska's Big Village Network, Center for Water Advocacy, Cook Inlet Tribes, hunters, fisher peoples, and citizens are concerned about the critical habitat and actual recovery of Cook Inlet Beluga Whales in Escopeta's rush for oil and gas activity. Questions of profound concern linger over the decline of Cook Inlet eulachon fishes since the Exxon Valdez oil spill. One of the major food species for humans and Cook Inlet Beluga Whales
Today, the Pacific States/BC Oil spill task force meetings taking place today in Anchorage will address the Pacific States and British Columbia, US and Canadian preparedness for preventing oil spills and blowouts offshore; this meeting is setting the framework for and emerging discussion amongst Native Villages, Tribal governments, conservation organizations and other stakeholders about oil spill and blow out preparedness in Cook Inlet.
“The Cook Inlet Tribes have not been notified, no information, no details of the Escopeta Company oil and gas activity in Cook Inlet. The traditional hunters cannot hunt but it seems that industry has no problem on permits to incidental take, and harass endangered Cook Inlet Beluga Whales. The Cook Inlet Treaty Tribes understanding is that nothing would be done until the tribes have substantive government to government input through the consultation process; the Tribes are still waiting. We are confident that there will be no oil and gas action taken until the Cook Inlet Treaty Tribes have adopted a Coastal Zone Management Plan . The Tribes of Cook Inlet will be addressing a Coastal Zone Management Plan at the next CITT meeting.” - MaryAnn Mills Chair of Cook Inlet Treaty Tribes.
Escopeta Company is rushing oil and gas activity by pushing a jack –up Spartan 151 drill rig into critical Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Habitat for a " Cash Prize" from the State of Alaska with little or no Federal or State oversight, especially considering the State of Alaska recently dumped t the Alaska Coastal Management Program.. Oil spill contingency plans are thus questioned in Cook Inlet, and in the Arctic Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.
Alaska's Big Village Network, Center for Water Advocacy, Cook Inlet Tribes, hunters, fisher peoples, and citizens are concerned about the critical habitat and actual recovery of Cook Inlet Beluga Whales in Escopeta’s rush for oil and gas activity. Questions of profound concern linger over the decline of Cook Inlet eulachon fishes since the Exxon Valdez oil spill. One of the major food species for humans and d Cook Inlet Beluga Whales
“When considering Unusual Mortality Events of unknown causes, we should not ignore adverse events affecting marine mammals and other species, until we know that adverse ecosystem impacts are not caused by oil and gas activities or oil spill response activities.” - John French PhD. Pegasus Environmental Solutions of Alaska
The Escopeta Company activity in Cook Inlet is significant oil and gas activity that warrants public participation .and review. Drilling is located in the middle of Endangered Species Act listed endangered Cook Inlet Beluga Whale migratory pathways that is critical to the recovery of Cook Inlet Beluga Whale habitat.
“Scientist have yet to determine Marine noise pollution impacts, like new drilling rigs, on young Cook Inlet Beluga Whales that frequent inland waters to escape natural predation by killer whales; ‘and this time of year many belugas are foraging on multiple species of salmon as they migrate to spawning rivers and streams in Cook Inlet.”- Carl Wassailed Biologist -- Alaska’s Big Village Network
“Lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and the BP Deepwater Horizon should be implemented in oil spill contingency plans. There should be a public review of the oil spill contingency plans for Cook Inlet and the Beaufort and Chuckchi Seas. ” - Walt Parker former Chairman of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Commission
“Until just recently it appeared National Marine Fisheries Service was the only governmental agency that was concerned about a an oil spill blowout regarding the Cook Inlet Beluga Whales and suddenly we hear yesterday that Senator Begich and NOAA Director Dr. Lubchenko are meeting with the stakeholders of the oil and gas industry to streamline the permitting process. It sounds like NMFS has done an about face on oil spill contingency planning in Cook Inlet .” - Harold Shepherd Water Policy Consultant
"Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) were done on our Beluga Whale hunters, even after 10 years of standing down on the harvest; why does Escopeta get to rush a drilling rig with NO updated Environmental Impact Statement, and no notification to Tribal governments or Tribal communities? This action clearly and disproportionately burdens the indigenous peoples of Cook Inlet whom have used and occupied the historic waters of Cook Inlet for customary and traditional hunting, fishing and gathering , commerce and navigation since time immemorial."The adverse cumulative impacts, risk assessments and oil spill contingency plans are inadequate for Cook Inlet, a Historical Bay. There is national and international interest in following federal in protecting invaluable natural resources. The Federal Agencies have an obligation to implement federal acts such as NEPA, MMPA, ESA, and Executive Order 13175 on government to government Consultation, and Executive Order 12898 Environmental Justice and President Obama’s Executive Order 13366 Section 1B Committee on Ocean Policy which states , “ to facilitate , as appropriate, coordination and consultation regarding ocean related matters among the Federal, State , Tribal governments, the private sector , foreign governments and international organizations.” Nikos Pastos Center for Water Advocacy
Nikos Pastos Board Treasurer Center for Water Advocacy, Homer Alaska www.centerforwateradvocacy.org 907-764-2561
Carl Wassilie Biologist Alaska’s Big Village Network Anchorage, Alaska www.AkBigVillageNetwork.blogspot.com 907-382-3403
ESCOPETA notice requirements were supposed to have been provided to the Cook Inlet Villages and their Cook Inlet Marine Mammal Council regarding the Spartan 151 Jack-up rig. This requirement is contained in the Alaska Coastal Management Programs' Escopeta North Cook Inlet (Offshore), Kitchen Prospect Exploration State ID N0, and AK2006-0201OG Final Consistency Determination which states on page 6:
"2. Escopeta Oil & Gas Corporation will coordination with the Native Village of Tyrone, The Kenai Peninsula Borough Coastal Management Program, the Cook Inlet Marine Mammal Council (and others as per Escopeta's Plan of Operations) to ensure that Escopeta's activities avoid and minimize potential adverse impacts to Beluga whales; the availability of fish and wildlife for commercial and subsistence uses; as well as the quality of life for Alaskans.
3. Commercial, sport and subsistence interests stakeholders who have expressed interest during the company's outreach programs will be notified by Escopeta at least 48 hours before transport of the drilling vessel in Cook Inlet waters...."
Beluga Whale Picture http://carinbondar.com/2010/12/baby-belugas-are-right-brained-just-like-me/
“Application of Best Available Technology & the Zero Discharge Standard to Cook Inlet Oil and Gas Development “ www.kbayconservation.com” 907-299-8821#####