BARROW, Alaska, Oct. 24, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Arctic Iñupiat Offshore (AIO) announced today that it is joining the Arctic Coalition, a collection of 21 Alaskan and nationwide organizations that support responsible energy development in and off the coast of Alaska. The group is calling on the Obama administration to listen to the views and perspectives of Alaska residents and keep Alaska's Arctic offshore acreage in the forthcoming federal energy leasing program.
Formed in July 2014, AIO is a joint venture of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and six North Slope village corporations, created to allow native communities to invest directly in energy-related projects in and near their areas. In total, the organizations collectively represent around 13,000 Iñupiat people.
Following the announcement AIO will work with other members of the Coalition, which includes native groups, labor unions, higher education programs and others, to articulate the essential role that the oil and gas industry plays in the Arctic and the importance of ensuring that the region is not ignored by the White House and Interior Department decision-makers. Administration officials have continually stated that local communities' views should be assigned special significance when assessing which areas of the U.S. outer continental shelf are included in the plan.
AIO and the Arctic Energy Center (AEC), another Arctic Coalition member, also announced today the forthcoming launch of a multi-platform campaign - with a major television ad buy at its center - aimed at highlighting local North Slope communities' perspectives on energy development in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. The six-figure campaign will run for two weeks to start in the Washington D.C. media markets, with placements beginning on October 25.
Commenting on the news Anthony E. Edwardsen, Chairman of AIO, said, "I am pleased to be able to announce today that Arctic Iñupiat Offshore is joining the Arctic Coalition, as it makes the case for the region's inclusion in the leasing program. The breadth of organizations involved, both Alaskan and national, demonstrates the importance of this issue – not only to local communities, but to our state and to the country as a whole.
"The campaign we're helping to launch today emphasizes three essential truths that we believe should be recognized as the foundation for any activity moving forward: That the Iñupiat people must be at the heart of any discussion; that development must be carried out in a safe and responsible manner; and that on and offshore energy play a critical role in the economy of the North Slope.
"Too often local people are left out of decisions affecting the North Slope. AIO seeks to be a partner to regulators, operators and native organizations."
Kara Moriarty, President and CEO of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, one of the AEC's sponsors, added her comments. "This administration has repeatedly stressed that the perspectives of local people should be taken into account, and in fact prioritized, when considering whether to allow offshore development to move forward. In case there was any question remaining about the depth and breadth of support that responsible energy development enjoys in these communities, we're hopeful that this campaign will clarify the point with folks in Washington."
As a part of the campaign, the Arctic Energy Center also plans a second ad run which will explore the national security ramifications of offshore energy development in the Arctic. It is expected to air from November 1 and will also run in and around Washington D.C.
Jeff Eshelman, Senior Vice President for Operations and Public Affairs at the Independent Petroleum Association of America, another AEC sponsor, explained the rationale. "In addition to Native communities' support for development, we thought it was important to highlight the real synergies that exist between energy industry infrastructure and our national security needs in remote parts of the country like the Arctic.
"The next advertisement will examine those parallels through a series of interviews with defense and security experts who have studied the issue and served in the region. Our hope is that by highlighting their perspective, members of the administration will again see evidence that the ramifications of excluding the Arctic from the leasing plan extend well beyond our future energy supply."
The Department of the Interior is due to announce its final 2017-2022 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program before the end of the year. The draft program, revealed in March, allows for the possibility of lease sales to be held for federally controlled tracts in the Beaufort (2020) and Chukchi (2022) seas.
Environmental activist groups have waged an aggressive campaign to have those areas removed from the final schedule. The Arctic Coalition has been launched in direct response to this effort and is aimed at highlighting essential role that oil and gas development plays in the Arctic.
For more information about the Arctic Coalition and the advertising campaign, please visit www.arcticenergycenter.com/tellDC.
Arctic Iñupiat Offshore is made up of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and six North Slope village corporations; Ukpeaġik Iñupiat Corporation, Tikigaq Corporation, Olgoonik Corporation, Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation, Atqasuk Corporation and Nunamiut Corporation. The corporations represent the communities of Barrow, Point Hope, Wainwright, Kaktovik, Atqasuk and Anaktuvuk Pass.
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SOURCE Acrctic Coalition