(Homer) - Representative Paul Seaton (House District 35) has introduced legislation directing the state to buy back Shallow Natural Gas leases, which were issued in the Homer area in June of 2003.
In 1976, Kachemak Bay was closed to oil and gas leases in order to protect the areas marine life and abundant fisheries. This bill would extend the moratorium of state shallow gas leases in Kachemak Bay to the adjacent upland areas within the Kenai Peninsula Borough, east of Cook Inlet and south of the north boundary of Township 5 South, Seward Meridian. The findings that justified closing Kachemak Bay to oil and gas development in the seventies still apply today and should be extended to protect the mainland habitat.
This bill allows the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources to authorize a credit to the leaseholder that could be applied against future lease purchases, rental payments, permit fees, royalties or oil and gas taxes instead of a cash buy back. The Commissioner would be authorized to acquire the leases through the exercise of eminent domain if buy back negotiations with the leaseholder are unsuccessful. Senator Gary Stevens of Senate District R has offered a companion bill to the Senate. Representative Seaton and Senator Stevens are working together in response to overwhelming constituent feedback opposing SNG development and asking for a buy back of the leases.