Delegation Condemns Harmful Resource Provisions in Partisan Reconciliation Bill
U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, Congressman Don Young (all R-Alaska) today sharply criticized the House of Representatives’ passage of a partisan reconciliation bill that would repeal the oil and gas program for the non-wilderness portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). That provision is among several in the bill that would harm Alaska’s ability to responsibly produce energy and mineral resources needed by the rest of the country and the world.
“The House reconciliation bill is entirely partisan, and nowhere more so than in its resource provisions. Those policies—which are all but designed to eliminate energy and mineral production in federal areas—are a gift to OPEC, Russia, and China at the worst possible time. And none are more offensive than repeal of the oil and gas program in the non-wilderness 1002 Area of ANWR that we fought so hard to win in 2017,” Murkowski said. “In the midst of high energy prices and mounting inflation, responsible domestic production from Alaska, including the prospective 1002 Area is needed more than ever. Despite that, House Democrats and the Biden administration are trying to throw it all away through an illegal taking that would fundamentally alter how U.S. leases have been administered for decades. We will do everything we can to strike the ANWR provision – and others – from the reconciliation bill when it comes to the Senate, but if that proves impossible, AIDEA as a leaseholder should be ready to sue.”
“From day one of his administration, President Biden and congressional Democrats have engaged in an all-out war on Alaska’s economy and the domestic energy sector. This provision in the Democrats’ reckless tax-and-spending spree is simply the latest outrageous salvo in this war,” said Senator Sullivan. “The bottom line is this: In the middle of a nationwide energy price spike, President Biden is intent on giving pink slips to hard-working Americans and Alaskans and decimating the U.S. energy sector, while begging OPEC and Russia to produce more oil. Those are facts. As winter approaches, I expect millions of Americans will be watching many of these senators closely to see if they go along with the President’s radical, anti-energy agenda that is hurting hard-working Alaskan and American families.”
“I am disappointed but not surprised that my Democratic colleagues have once again put a target on Alaska's energy sector. Democrats insist that the bill they passed this morning will help us 'Build Back Better,' but with the anti-ANWR provisions included in the bill, all they will accomplish is a betrayal of our dedicated energy workers and their families, forcing them to 'Build Back Broke.' The anti-Alaska language included in this bill is an affront to our energy workforce, including a good deal of union members. If the concern is carbon emissions, what sense does it make to shut down responsible energy production in ANWR only to force a greater reliance on foreign oil from countries with far lower environmental standards? I will continue to oppose any attempts to repeal the ANWR leasing program, whether through this misguided reconciliation bill or any other legislative measure. This is not the time to roll back the progress we made on ANWR's coastal plain. When it comes to responsible energy exploration in ANWR, the facts are clear: the Arctic Iñupiat community of Kaktovik supports it, the State of Alaska supports it, and the Alaska Delegation's Members from both parties have always supported it,” said Congressman Young. “I was a strong NO vote on the reconciliation bill and will keep fighting against efforts from the Lower 48 to lock up our state.”
In 2017, the resource title of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, authorized the surface development of up to 2,000 federal acres of the non-wilderness 1002 Area, equivalent to roughly one ten-thousandth of all of ANWR. ANWR itself spans 19.3 million acres, an area of land roughly equal in size to South Carolina, in northeast Alaska.
In 1980, Congress designated more than eight million acres within ANWR as federal wilderness as part of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. That same legislation set aside the 1.57-million-acre Coastal Plain for petroleum exploration and potential future development, which is supported by a majority of Alaskans. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the 1002 Area contains 10.4 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil that could be sent to states like California, which has grown significantly more dependent on foreign oil as Alaska production has declined.
From 2017 through 2020, the Trump administration conducted extensive consultation, analysis, and review to develop an environmentally protective development program for the 1002 Area in accordance with the law. The Record of Decision included significant no surface occupancy and operational timing limitations for hundreds of thousands of acres in the 1002 Area, along with nine additional lease stipulations and 44 required operating procedures. The first lease sale was held in January 2021, resulting in 13 bids and nine leases being awarded to the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA).
In addition to the provision to repeal the 1002 Area program and cancel all leases awarded under it, House Democrats’ partisan reconciliation bill would raise federal oil and gas royalties; hike minimum bid and annual rental rates; increase bonding requirements; reduce the length of lease terms; impose a range of new or higher fees and fines; eliminate royalty relief; and place most of the Outer Continental Shelf under a permanent leasing moratorium. The measure would also rewrite standards for federal land use and management; provide funding for new mining regulations; and grant the Bureau of Land Management unilateral authority to withdraw any of its lands from entry, appropriation, disposal, location, and patent.