After 37 Years, Responsible Development Is Closer Than Ever

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Rep. Don Young, all R-Alaska, today released the following statements after the House and Senate passed H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, securing a major victory for Alaskans and all Americans. In addition to reforming the tax code, the bill opens the non-wilderness 1002 Area in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to responsible energy development.

“This is a watershed moment for Alaska and all of America,” Murkowski said. “We have fought to open the 1002 Area for a very long time, and now, our day has finally arrived. I thank all who kept this effort alive over the decades, especially Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski, and all who supported this bill. Alaskans can now look forward to our best opportunity to refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, thousands of jobs that will pay better wages, and potentially $60 billion in royalties for our state alone. This is a major victory for Alaska that will help us fulfill the promises of our statehood and give us renewed hope for growth and prosperity.” 

“For decades, Alaskans have fought for the right and opportunity – against an unwilling federal government – to allow Alaska to develop the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge so that we can strengthen our communities and build a better life for our children,” Sullivan said. “But for decades, we’ve been denied that right. Today that has changed. I want to thank all of the hundreds – if not thousands of Alaskans – who have spent countless hours over the years to get this done. I want to thank Senator Murkowski and Congressman Young for all of their hard work over the years on this issue. I also want to thank the late Senator Ted Stevens and his family, who spent much of his life on this just cause. Twelve years ago, his last attempt to open the 1002 Area of the coastal plain was blocked. Senator Stevens said that it was the ‘saddest day of his life.’ Today, no doubt, he’s looking down on us, with a smile on his face.”  

“This is a historic moment for Alaskans and I am incredibly proud of the work this delegation has done over the years to open the 1002 Area of ANWR,” Young said. “Congress specifically set aside this land to be used for responsible resource development and it was always intended to unleash America’s potential energy production. Opening this area will create more jobs for Alaskans, generate future revenue for this country to pay down the deficit and keep energy affordable for American families and businesses. I am especially proud to see this measure pass today because I have fought to open the 1002 area for the past 40 years and today marks an important step in this process.”  

For 37 years, the members of Alaska’s congressional delegation have championed legislation to open a small portion of the 1002 Area, within the non-wilderness portion of ANWR, to responsible energy development. That effort culminated today with congressional passage of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which President Trump is expected to sign in the days ahead.

Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, is the author of the bill’s second title, which establishes an environmentally responsible oil and gas program in the non-wilderness 1002 Area of ANWR. At least two lease sales, featuring the most prospective acreage in the 1002 Area, will be held within the next decade.

In 1980, Congress set aside the 1.57-million acre 1002 Area for potential future development, which is supported by a strong majority of Alaskans. Surface development will be limited to 2,000 federal acres—just one ten-thousandth of all of ANWR—and will bring an estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil to market, strengthening our nation’s energy security long into the future.