Small Business Sign on Letter

Amanda Lefton, Director
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20240  

RE: LEASING LOWER COOK INLET WILL NEGATIVELY IMPACT OUR BUSINESSES 

Dear Director Lefton: 

We are small business owners in Lower Cook Inlet, Alaska, and we are writing about Cook Inlet’s inclusion in the 5 Year Plan for new federal offshore oil and gas leasing. We have a vision for our home, and it does not include the pipelines, platforms and pollution heavy industry would bring. 

Lower Cook Inlet is a spectacular region that attracts millions of visitors each year to fish, hunt, hike, camp, watch wildlife or just take-in the incredible natural beauty. The region is surrounded by a world-class constellation of public lands - including Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, Katmai National Park & Preserve, the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Kachemak Bay State Park & Wilderness Park and McNeil River State Game Sanctuary & Refuge. 

There’s no place in the nation where people can find such an amazing array of state and federal protected areas, and these intact resources play a vital role supporting our local businesses, our families and our communities. The specter of oil platforms, pipelines and heavy industry in Lower Cook Inlet would deter tourists from coming to Cook Inlet and spending money in our community. 

The people and the environment of Lower Cook Inlet suffered heavily from the devastation wrought by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in 1989, and some resources have still not recovered. Yet the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Lease Sale 258 predicts a 1 in 5 chance of one or more large oil spills. That's one reason why more than 93,000 comments poured into BOEM for that proposal, and why 99.98% of the people who commented oppose the expansion of oil and gas development into Lower Cook Inlet.

In the 1970’s, the State of Alaska leased the adjacent waters of Kachemak Bay for oil and gas development. But local fishermen and businesses had a different vision for this remarkable region, and pressed the state to buy back the leases. Today, Kachemak Bay supports thriving economies around tourism and sport and commercial fishing, and none of this would have been possible if Kachemak Bay had been turned over to pipelines, platforms and pollution.

Like so many small businesses across the country, our businesses in Cook Inlet have faced significant challenges from COVID. Please do not add further stress to our livelihoods. Please issue a Presidential withdrawal, removing Cook Inlet from this proposed 5 Year Plan and all future 5 Year Plans.

We know President Biden promised to stop offshore oil and gas leasing, and campaigned on the importance of small businesses and a strong economic recovery from COVID. We hope the Administration will honor these promises and protect our business from the threat of new oil and gas development in Lower Cook Inlet.

Sincerely,
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