Daily Energy Insider: Alaska lawmakers support Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil, gas development

The congressional delegation from Alaska expressed their support for the oil and gas leasing program for the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is currently developing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the program.

“We are pleased the Department is complying with its legal mandate to hold multiple lease sales and encourage you to continue to prioritize this program. We believe the Final EIS should maximize acreage available for leasing to fully comply with congressional intent and ensure the greatest possible return to the U.S. Treasury,” U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Rep. Don Young (R-AK) said in a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management, Joe Balash.

They also urged the Department of the Interior (DOI) to prioritize subsistence access for the residents of Kaktovik, a village located within the region.

“We also encourage you to continue your significant efforts to engage the local people – state leaders, the people of the North Slope, and particularly the residents of the village of Kaktovik, the only inhabitants of the Coastal Plain. Their voices and input are critical for this process, and we are thankful DOI has worked hard to meet with and hear from Alaskans in their communities,” they wrote.

The delegation added that oil and gas development will only occur on a small footprint of the ANWR.

“As BLM reviews the comments and prepares a Final EIS, we would reiterate that the statutory authorization providing for surface development – up to 2,000 federal acres – is meant as both a restriction to protect the environment and a guarantee that leases can be developed in a timely manner. The 2,000-acre designation provides for reasonable access for the oil and gas program while ensuring that no more than 0.01 percent of the total acreage of ANWR will be developed,” they wrote.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in 2017, authorizes the surface development of 2,000 federal acres of the non-wilderness Coastal Plain for energy development. It would bring an estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil to market.

By:  Dave Kovaleski
Source: Daily Energy Insider