In many harbors and ports across Alaska, the winter is a time when boats sit idle awaiting the longer days of spring and the beginning of a new season. While fishing may slow down, the important work of marine conservation gets no reprieve.
During the final days of the Trump Administration, the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) released an Environmental Impact Statement for oil and gas lease sale 258 in the federal waters of Lower Cook Inlet.
Lease sale 258 opens up over a million acres of biologically productive waters stretching from just below Kalgin Island down to Augustine Island and across to the mouth of Kachemak Bay.
These pristine waters support small-scale commercial fisheries, subsistence fisheries, personal use and sport fisheries in Lower Cook Inlet. Considered some of the most biologically productive marine waters in the world, this region is a critical component to the ecological integrity and biological productivity of the Gulf of Alaska, as the nutrient-dense waters of Cook Inlet are pumped into the Gulf with tidal power that can generate currents of 5 knots. Notably, Cook Inlet and its arms have been proposed as attractive sites for the generation of tidal power.
In the 1996 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Lease Sale 149 in Lower Cook Inlet, the federal government estimated a 72% likelihood of an oil spill over two million gallons. Yet the EIS for this new lease sale in these same waters was completed in only three months, indicating an inexcusable abandonment of concern.
The potential impact of a spill extends well into the Gulf of Alaska:
This expanse of water is far from still, as evidenced by the Exxon Valdez oil spill:
While lease sale 258 may be impacted by the recent release of Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, we're gathering people power to clearly express the importance of these waters to Alaskans.
Please take a stand for Gulf of Alaska fisheries and coastal communities by signing and sharing the online petition requesting a cancellation of this lease sale and the withdrawal of the Cook Inlet lease area from all lease sales: