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(Please note that this document was scanned from a corrupted fax

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(Please note that this document was scanned from a corrupted fax

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    (Please note that this document was scanned from a corrupted fax document. The original document was professionally typed

    and formatted and inconsistency with the original should be attributed to this editor and scanning technology rather than the

    original author. The editor has attempted to edit where program limitations permitted but failed to reproduce the quality of the

    original statement. dh, 7-20-01)

    STATEMENT

    of the

    ALASKA ESKIMO WHALING COMMISSION

    at the

    STATE OF ALASKA HEARING 014 ROUTES FOR THE

    Thank you, my name is Charlie Neakok. I am the Vice President of the Barrow Whaling Captains‟ Association.

    I am speaking today on behalf of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC), which represents the 10 bowhead subsistence hunting villages Located along the coast 01

    northern Alaska from Kaktovik near the Canadian border to Little Diomede and St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Strait.

    Subsistence hunting, especially the bowhead hunt, Is at the core of our culture. Without it, our culture and social structure would collapse.

Before commenting directly on the two proposed gas pipeline routes, I would

    like to make a few general comments on the impacts of North Slope oil

    and gas development on our communities.

    We understand that the United States needs North Slope oil and gas, and we are a people who believe in sharing. We also recognize that the development

    of North Slope oil has enabled us, especially our North Slope communities, to

    improve the quality of our physical lives.

    However, we also are very conscious of the fact that our communities bear 100 percent of the risk and other burdens associated with the environmentalsocial 1

    and cultural Impacts of North Slope oil and gas development.

    Like I said, there have been some indirect physical benefits to our communities from oil development, and many who support North Slope oil and gas development are very quick to point out those benefits. We gladly

    acknowledge them and are grateful for them.

    However, we must note that in reality, the benefits to our communities from oil and Q35 development have been to bring the standard ol living in our

    villages only up to the minimum enjoyed by the rest of the population of the United States.

In fact, the overwhelming benefits of North Slope oil and gas development go to the

    communities of the lower 48 states, to foreign countries who buy the oil and gas, and to the

    corporations who gain huge profits from the development of our petroleum resources None of these entities share even a tiny portion of the risks and burdens of this development. This situation is no different in the case of the proposed natural gas pipeline.

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    The AEWC understands that two possible routes are being considered for the proposed North Slope natural gas pipeline.

    One route would go from Prudhoe Bay, along the Alaska Highway to Fairbanks and then south to Alberta, Canada.

    the AEWC supports this so called “Alaska Highway Route” for a number of reasons. To mention only a few of those reasons:

     A pipeline running onshore through the North Slope will provide an

    opportunity for our small communities and communities to the south of us

    that do not have access to natural gas at this time to bring natural gas into

    their villages and homes by spur lines.

     The building of a pipeline along the Alaska Highway Route would provide

    many jobs opportunities throughout Alaska. We hope that our Native people

    would have access to some of these job opportunities.

     The onshore pipeline running through North Slope Borough land would

    provide some additional indirect benefits to our community by providing

    capital for the North Slope Borough tax base

     Most importantly, however, the Alaska Highway Route would keep the

    pipeline onshore.

    The AEWC adamantly opposes the proposed alternate, or so called “Northern Route,” for the pipeline.

The Northern Route would cell for the gas pipeline to be built across the North Slope

    through the Beaufort Sea.

    The location of this alternate proposed mute would go directly through the fall migratory route of the bowhead Whale, Including the subsistence hunting area used by our fall hunting villages of Nuiqsut and Kaktovik.

    This proposed alternate route would go through important feeding areas for the fall migrating whales and through the Kaktovik deferral area which has been set aside to Protect the bowhead feeding grounds in the area of Barter island.

    Our elders and whaling captains told them that bowheads are very sensitive to noise.

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    We have san no environmental studies evaluating the effects of dredging a pipeline for so many miles through the sea floor, but we know what the Impacts will be.

    The Beaufort Sea habitat used by the bowheads, belugas, ugaruk, fish, birds, and other sea animals will be disrupted for an indefinite amount of time. With this disruption comes the potential for harm to these stocks, including our endangered bowhead whale.

There is no way to know how long it would take for the eastern Beaufort Sea habitat to return to normal

    after the extensive dredging operations that would be required.

    Furthermore, if a gas pipeline were laid through the Beaufort Sea, our communities would be faced with decades of disruptions due to the need for ongoing surveillance and maintenance of the pipeline. This would further disrupt the habitat and migratory habits of the Beaufort see wildlife on which we depend for our subsistence.

    Since some of these animals, especially the bowhead migrate beyond the North Slope, these disruptions would not only affect North Slope communities. They would affect

    villages all along the coast of Alaska.

    They also would disrupt the diet and lifestyle of the many communities and families throughout Alaska that depend on us for barter for their marine food,

At this point in time, many of us here on the North Slope have literally grown up hearing

    the arguments of outsiders trying to tell ue about the animals and the

    environment of the Arctic.

    In the 1970‟s, the U.S. Government and the environmentalists told us that the bowhead whale was going to extinction, our elders and whaling captains told them then that the

    bcwhead whales are healthy and that the population was growing.

    The outsiders wouldn‟t believe us, so the North Slope Borough did the research and proved that our elders and whaling captains were right 4

    In the 1980‟s, the oil companies told us that seismic noise would not interfere with the bowhead whale migration.

    Our elders and whaling captains told them that bowheads are very sensitive to noise. Bowheads will swim away from noise and will change their swimming patterns when they hear unfamiliar noises.

This is why we have been taught to be quiet at our spring ice camps.

     “ “~~„ . ~„C” „

    Our elders and whaling captains told them that bowheads are very sensitive to noise.

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    suit and go to Washington to lobby But the AEWC and the North Slops Borough had to file a law

    Congress before the U.S. Government would require the oil and gas companies to do the right kind of

    research on seismic noise.

When this research was done, again our elders and whaling captains were

    proven right. The bowhead whales shift their fall migration to the north when there is seismic activity during the open water season.

    Not only that, the whales have been observed avoiding active seismic at almost exactly the distance our elders and whaling captains said they would.

    Now these natural gas producers want to tell us that they can build a sub sea pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to the McKenzie Delta and that it will not disturb the habitat of our marine animals; and that it will not interfere with our subsistence.

    Our elders and whaling captains are telling us that this is wrong. There will be tremendous disturbance. And we know that our elders and whaling captains are right,

    We also know that these natural gas producers are being driven only by greed. They will say whatever they think will help them get what they want

    The oil and gas companies always want to tell us that whatever actions they propose will be harmless to our environment end to our people.

    A generation of listening to these arguments has taught us that they are nothing but strings of empty self-serving words.

    The Arctic is a harsh and unforgiving place. Life here is fragile. Man-made machines and other equipment become very fragile when exposed to the

    temperatures! weather, sea, and ice conditions of the Arctic.

The AEWC and the whaling captains try to work cooperatively with the oil and

    gas companies when we can. Like I said, our culture is based on sharing.

    We did not oppose the gas producers‟ request for an Incidental Harassment Authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service this summer so that they can conduct their shallow hazard survey.

Why should we? We don‟t mind if they want to gather data. As long as they do

    not interfere with our marine animals and our subsistence.

    Not only that, but opposing the IHA request would have been pointless. NMFS would have issued it whether or not we objected,

    However, if the gas companies try to go forward and build a pipeline through the

     Page 4 of $

     2001 07/20 FRI 12:04 FAX 12345678901234567890 ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOP l~ 006 / 006

Beaufort, we will oppose that project with all resources available to us. Keep in

    mind the ten AEWC whaling villages have signed resolutions opposing the Northern Route.

    We will share with these oil and gas companies up to the point where they threaten our subsistence resources and our hunting. Then we will not share anymore. We will fight

If the gas producers want to take gas from the North Slope, let them bring the

    pipeline onshore~ where they can share the gas With Alaskan communities,

    and where they share the benefits with our people and with the State.

    If these producers are not willing to do this, then we will oppose them absolutely. We will propose that someone else build the pipeline.

    In closing, let me be very clear, the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission is prepared to work cooperatively with the gas producers if they bring the gas pipeline onshore.

    However the AEWC and the whaling captains of all of our 10 villages will oppose ABSOLUTELY any attempt to build a gas pipeline through our Beaufort Sea.

     Page 4 of $

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