WASHINGTON Dec 19 The federal government on
Wednesday announced plans to develop petroleum reserves on part
of Alaska's North Slope, with the 23-million-acre National
Petroleum Reserve to be divided between areas available for oil
leases and those that are protected from development for now.
The announcement by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
followed the completion of an environmental impact study, which
recommended development of about 72 percent of the estimated
"economically recoverable" oil in the reserve.
The move drew criticism from Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who
contended the Obama administration had not gone far enough to
open up oil and natural gas resources in the area.
Salazar said the plan as conceived would allow for the
potential construction of pipelines carrying oil or gas from
operations in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas through the NPR
The areas where oil and gas development will not be allowed
include "the vital subsistence resources of Alaska Natives and
the habitat of world-class wildlife populations," the Interior