Delegation Reaffirms Strong Support for Coastal Plain Leasing Program

Reiterates Congressional Intent to Maximize the Acreage Available for Leasing

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Rep. Don Young, all R-Alaska, today sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management, Joe Balash, to express their continued strong support for the oil and gas leasing program for the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is currently moving forward with the development of 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,” the delegation wrote. “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.”

The delegation further urged the Department of the Interior (DOI) to prioritize subsistence access for the residents of Kaktovik, a village located within the 1002 Area. 

“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.”

Given some of the misinformation being presented about the 1002 leasing program, the delegation also pointed to the extremely small footprint that will be associated with responsible development.

“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.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.

The public comment period for BLM’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for oil and gas leasing in the Coastal Plain of ANWR closed on March 13.

H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, was signed in December 2017. The second title of the Act authorizes the surface development of 2,000 federal acres of the non-wilderness Coastal Plain for responsible energy development, which could bring an estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil to market. New production from the 1002 Area will refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System while also creating high-paying jobs, generating billions of dollars in revenues for the state and federal treasuries, keeping energy prices affordable for families and businesses, and strengthening national energy security.