Alaska Delegation Commends Executive Order on Offshore Energy Development

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, and U.S. Rep. Don Young, all R-Alaska, today joined President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for the signing ceremony of an Executive Order to implement an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy. The order lifts leasing withdrawals imposed on Alaska’s Arctic, directs the Department of the Interior to conduct a review of the areas available for leasing, and directs a review of certain regulations governing offshore development.

“When President Trump took office, he promised to listen to the people and to return power to them, and today he and Secretary Zinke delivered for Alaskans,” Murkowski said. “After the last administration spent eight years systematically closing off access to the Arctic, this executive order puts us back on track to explore and ultimately produce the prolific resources in that region. Alaskans broadly support offshore development in the Arctic. And I strongly believe that over time, today’s order will provide substantial benefits by putting our state on a better path to create jobs, generate new revenues, refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, and strengthen our leadership in the Arctic.” 

“Last December, Alaskans were outraged when President Obama unilaterally placed nearly the entire Arctic Ocean off-limits to energy development,” Sullivan said. “Today, President Trump undertook the first steps to right this wrong for Alaskans and for our country. Production is increasing in Alaska, and there are new oil finds throughout the state. Alaska is on the brink of leading our country into a new energy renaissance. With a White House working with Congress—and acting as a partner with Alaska—responsible production of our energy resources will strengthen our national security, provide good jobs for thousands of Alaskans, and help grow the economies of our state and our country.”  

“Today is an important moment for Alaska’s future,” Young said. “It represents a significant reversal of the previous administration’s failed domestic energy policy; one that focused on locking away our resources, limiting new opportunities and creating insurmountable roadblocks at every turn. Along with our united congressional delegation, I’ve fought back to ensure Alaska’s energy potential remains on the table. As a resources oriented state, this is critical. I commend President Trump for recognizing the importance of development in the Arctic OCS and look forward to building a regulatory climate that truly gives exploration a chance to succeed.”

Among the highlights of today’s Executive Order are the following benefits for Alaska:

  • Erases Arctic 12(a) Withdrawals. Nullifies President Obama’s indefinite withdrawal of nearly all of the Beaufort and Chukchi OCS leasing areas.
  • Potential for Leasing. Calls for a review of the existing schedule of offshore lease sales and directs the Secretary of the Interior to consider whether new sales should be added for the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Cook Inlet leasing areas.
  • More Reasonable Regulation. Requires the reconsideration and potential revision of the Arctic rule, the Well Control Rule, and other regulations imposed by the previous administration. 

Alaska’s offshore areas contain prolific energy resources. According to Interior’s own technical analysts, the Beaufort and Chukchi seas form one of the most prospective basins in the world. Together, these areas are projected to hold 23.6 billion barrels of oil and 104.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. For perspective, that is enough to meet all of California’s demands for oil and natural gas for 37.5 years and 43.5 years, respectively.

According to a 2011 analysis by the firm Northern Economics, development of the resources in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas would create an annual average of 55,000 jobs over a 50-year period. Those jobs would create a total payroll of $145 billion over that span. Development is also projected to generate a total of $193 billion for local, state and federal treasuries. According to a 2014 poll, 73 percent of Alaskans support Arctic OCS development.

The Alaska delegation has repeatedly asserted the importance of responsible energy development in the Arctic, and made every effort to preserve Arctic lease sales in the Five-Year OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022.

Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.  

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