by Sue Deyoe ~ February 23rd, 2011
The state’s Division of Oil and Gas at Department of Natural Resources has taken to heart the comments concerning the Susitna Basin Exploration Licenses. The area, west of the Susitna River and south of Petersville Road, including the Yentna and Kahiltna Rivers came under scrutiny for possible gas exploration.The final and most recent findings don’t mean a stop to exploration, it just means an addendum to all the original information released several years ago.
In 2003, DNR released their final finding which stated that oil and gas exploration in the Susitna Basin area was in the best interest of the state. In April of last year, the division of oil and gas received a proposal for an exploration license in the Susitna basin area. When DOG issued a call for any possible NEW information regarding that proposal, they received comments from the Talkeetna Community Council, the non-profit Talkeetna based-group called Alaska Survival and the Mat Su Borough. The different entities questioned wildlife habitat, trails, as well as future potential hazards and disasters such as those that happened with the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.
The comments that were received prodded officials to find there was substantial new information – enough to justify an addendum to the finding, which includes information from the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year as well as the Alaska Risk Assessment Project.
The licensing WILL move forward, but Saree Timmons, the leasing section manager at the division of oil and gas, cautions people to realize that the exploration license is just that. A license to explore, and that it is only the first step in obtaining the numerous permits required.