Delegation Welcomes Announcement of First Coastal Plain Lease Sale

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Rep. Don Young, all R-Alaska, today issued the following statements after the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that a Notice of Sale for the first lease sale in the non-wilderness Coastal Plain (1002 Area) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) will be published on December 7, 2020.

“BLM’s announcement means we are now just weeks away from a long-awaited lease sale in the 1002 Area,” Murkowski said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for Alaska’s resources to continue benefitting our nation and providing American families with well-paying jobs. Alaskans have proven, over and over again, that we can responsibly develop our resources while being good stewards of our lands and waters. I thank Secretary Bernhardt and his team for their efforts to ensure the first lease sale is carried out, as required by law, enabling us to strengthen our state’s economy over the long-term.”

“This is great news for Alaska. Responsibly developing the untapped resources of ANWR’s Coastal Plain will be critically important to filling TAPS, bolstering Alaska’s economy, and providing jobs for hard-working Alaskans in the decades to come,” Sullivan said. “I applaud the Interior Department and the Bureau of Land Management for working diligently to implement the provision we as a delegation included in the 2017 tax law, and announcing a leasing program that Alaskans have fought so hard for more than 40 years to secure.”

“This is an exciting day not only for Alaska, but for American energy dominance. I am very pleased that BLM has announced its first Notice of Sale for the 1002 Area of ANWR. This is a tremendous step forward for our state and the countless Alaskans who make a living in our energy sector. Finally achieving what was promised by ANILCA four decades ago is in sight, and I want to thank everyone involved for their ongoing hard work and commitment. As we approach the day when drilling can begin, I will be working hard with our Delegation, BLM, and the operators who will make our long-time fight a reality,” Young said.

President Trump signed H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, in December 2017. The second title of the Act authorizes the surface development of up to 2,000 federal acres of the non-wilderness Coastal Plain (roughly one ten-thousandth of all of ANWR). The U.S. Geological Survey estimates this area contains 10.4 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil. New production from the 1002 Area will help refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System while creating high-paying jobs, generating revenues for the state and federal treasuries, keeping energy prices affordable for families and businesses, and strengthening national energy security.  

Alaska has a strong record of responsible resource development. The footprint of drilling pads on the North Slope has declined by 80 percent since the 1970s, while the reach of underground drilling has grown by 4,000 percent. The result is that less land is being used to develop resources than ever before; many modern sites cover just a few acres and are miles apart. The Central Arctic Caribou herd, which ranges throughout Prudhoe Bay, has seen its population grow for sustained periods alongside development on the North Slope. 

ANWR 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 – an area of land significantly larger than Maryland – 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.