By Michael O’Meara
During an Oct. 25 public meeting at McNeil Canyon School, Buccaneer Alaska’s Mark Landt shared his dream for coming years: Strike it rich offshore and onshore; Drill more wells; Build roads and other infrastructure all over the West Eagle leases; Run a pipeline across the Anchor River toward Nikolaevsk; Keep East End Road busy with related truck traffic.
It was the single heartfelt response to questions during two nights of long overdue public meetings.
Someone at McNeil Canyon said Mark Landt’s dream was her worst nightmare. Most folks expressed misgivings during Buccaneer’s meetings — over the way industrialization would change our communities and over Buccaneer’s apparent incompetency and lack of candor.
Most questions went unanswered. Whatever the issue — from when the rig “Endeavor” might leave Kachemak Bay to where water for drilling West Eagle would come from — there was dithering and evasion.
Can it be that Buccaneer actually doesn’t know the answers, or was it just unwillingness to tell the truth?
Oil and gas is a risky business. It takes the best technology, know-how, preparedness and decisiveness in the face of the unexpected to avoid catastrophe. All seem beyond Buccaneer. That places everyone, from stockholders and workers to Kachemak Bay area residents, at unacceptable risk.
The Alaska departments of Fish and Game, Environmental Conservation, and Natural Resources are supposed to require oil and gas companies to comply with laws and regulations that reduce risk, protect our resources and avoid harm to local people.
Unfortunately, except for DEC’s refusal to let Buccaneer drill off Anchor Point on an upper Cook Inlet lease without a contingency plan, the agencies seem too timid to do their jobs. Instead, they’ve bent the rules and turned a blind eye to Buccaneer’s disrespect for the law.
Kachemak Bay, its watershed, and Lower Cook Inlet are uniquely valuable resources deserving of protection from pollution and habitat destruction. Our local communities and economy depend upon them. We count on state agencies to protect us from incompetent companies and ill advised resource extraction schemes. When officials fail to do their jobs, it’s up to citizens to organize, raise a fuss, and hold them accountable.
Michael O’Meara is a founding member of the Cook Inletkeeper, a board member and a longtime Homer resident who lived in Kachemak Bay when oil and gas development leases were sold here in the 1970s.
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