Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Agency overview
Headquarters550 West 7th. Avenue, Suite 1400,
Anchorage, Alaska 99501-3557[1]
Agency executive
  • Corri Feige, Commissioner[2]
Parent agencyState of Alaska
WebsiteDNR.Alaska.gov

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is a department within the government of Alaska. The department's mission is to responsibly develop Alaska's resources by making them available for maximum use and benefit consistent with the public interest .[1]

The department comprises seven divisions:

Mission and Objective of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources: The official mission of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources is “to develop, conserve and maximize the use of Alaska's natural resources consistent with the public interest.”(1) The Department of Natural Resources articulates what they do on their official website stating, “The Department of Natural Resources manages all state-owned land, water and natural resources, except for fish and game, on behalf of the people of Alaska. When all land conveyances from the federal government are completed, the people of the state will own land and resources on 104 million acres: Approximately 100 million acres have been conveyed so far. The state owns approximately 60 million acres of tidelands, shorelands, and submerged lands and manages 40,000 miles of coastline. The state also owns the freshwater resources of the state, a resource that equals about 40% of the entire nation's fresh water flow.”(1) As stated above, aside from fish and game, if it has to do with resources such as timber, oil, natural gas or water, the Department of Natural Resources is the governing authority. The department fields requests and inquiries from both private organizations and corporations as well as the federal government on the availability and accessibility of natural resources in the state of Alaska and must keep the citizens of Alaska in mind while making any decisions regarding said natural resources. The task is difficult uniquely in Alaska because natural resources related occupations dominate the Alaskan economy and job market. This makes the balance between doing what is prudent from a fiscal perspective versus doing what is best for the environment an ever-swinging pendulum.

Current Pending Legislation and Day to Day Tasks: Most recently, government and public and political interests in oil and natural gas has become a controversial docket item for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, in part because of the lucrative nature of the resource but also due to the large quantities of oil located on land managed by the department. The pressure by the US Government to produce and extract more US oil and natural gas, thus becoming less dependent on foreign resources, has created friction amongst the citizens of Alaska and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. For example, the Trump administration has recently taken several steps to open portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska up for oil and gas exploration. The refuge is 19.3 million acres and the desired parcel of land is approximately 1.6 million acres – home to wildlife such as polar bears, wolves, migratory birds, and the porcupine caribou herd. For many years this area has been closed off to oil and natural gas exploration because of some of the negative effects that intervening in an area such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could have on the land, the ecosystem and the wildlife in the area. Grappling with the potential economic advantages and lucrative nature of oil and natural gas production and doing the right thing for the environment is commonplace for The Alaska Department of Natural Resources. This balance is especially difficult considering a 2017 Report noting that there are an estimated 640 million barrels of untapped oil and 219 Trillion cubic feet of potential natural gas between both the North Slope and the Cook Inlet, both of which are managed by the department.

Other Resources Managed by The Alaska Department of Natural Resources- While oil and natural gas are resources that the department is certainly responsible for looking over, Alaska is home to a wide variety of minerals that have a vast array of uses. Alaska is ranked top 10 in the world when it comes to the following minerals: Coal, copper, lead, coal, zinc, and silver.(4) Mining and minerals are another extremely lucrative faction of the Alaskan economy managed by the Department of Natural Resources. For perspective, in 2016, the Division of Mining, land and water generated $28.4 million through the authorization of state lands and water.(4) Once again, the balance between doing what is prudent for the economy and doing justice to the land and resources is a constant balancing act for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

           The Vote to Protect The Arctic Wildlife Refuge Via The Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act: With the election of president Trump in 2016, one of the main focuses of the administration shifted to becoming energy independent. Considering the amount of potential, untapped oil and natural gas. This has sparked controversy nationwide but particularly in Alaska because of its abundance of resources. When Donald Trump was elected, a tax bill was passed with provisions embedded that would strip protections allowing for potential prospecting and extraction of natural resources on public lands, including those in Alaska. The public outcry for protection of the lands in jeopardy of corporatization has become increasingly prevalent. In September 2019, the House of Representatives passed the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act, protecting over 1.5 million acres of land.(3) This section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a unique habitat home to many different species that thrive in its current condition. The Arctic National Refuge contains more biodiversity than anywhere north of the Arctic Circle. Proponents of the bill believe that any human intervention could potentially damage the area for decades, rendering parts of the land uninhabitable to many species native to the area. The passage of the bill means a restoration of protective provisions stripped by the tax bill in 2016. Bills like this dictate where the Alaska Department of Natural Resources can issue leases and permissions to corporations to search for and excavate natural resources.

References

  1. ^ a b "Official site". Alaska Department of Natural Resources.
  2. ^ http://www.dnr.alaska.gov/commis/

http://www.akleg.gov/basis/get_documents.asp?session=30&docid=21 (1)

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1146 (2)

https://www.audubon.org/news/new-legislation-restores-protections-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge (3)

http://www.akleg.gov/basis/get_documents.asp?session=30&docid=21 (4)