Murkowski and Sullivan Introduce Bill to Restart Alaska OCS Development

Lifts 12(a) Moratorium, Reinstates Arctic Lease Sales, Provides Revenue Sharing

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska, yesterday introduced the Offshore Production and Energizing National Security Alaska Act of 2017 (OPENS Alaska Act) to repeal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) withdrawals made at the end of the Obama administration, provide for lease sales in the Arctic OCS, and ensure Alaska receives a fair share of the revenues from oil and gas development off its coast.

“After years of regulatory restrictions and burdens imposed by the Obama administration, this bill charts a much better course for responsible energy production in our Beaufort and Chukchi seas that actually reflects the views of the vast majority of Alaskans,” Murkowski said. “These areas contain prolific resources that can be safely developed to create jobs, reduce our deficits, keep energy affordable, and strengthen national security. I look forward to working with Alaskans and my colleagues to advance this bill through the Senate.”

"The Obama administration tried to kill responsible resource development in the Arctic, ignoring the fact that the rush to the Arctic is on," Sullivan said. "Oil and gas will be developed in the region—whether by our nation or others.  It is imperative that exploration and development occur with all of the safeguards required by the United States to protect the environment and the people who live in the region."

According to the Department of the Interior, the Beaufort and Chukchi seas form one of the most prospective basins in the world. Together, these areas are estimated to hold 23.6 billion barrels of oil and 104.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas—enough oil and gas to meet all of California’s energy demands for 37.5 years and 43.5 years, respectively.

The Senators believe the Trump administration has all the authority it needs to revoke President Obama’s unpopular, economically-damaging, and last-minute 12(a) withdrawals, but introduced legislation to set a marker that reflects the views of the vast majority of Alaskans. The OPENS Alaska Act will increase access to the Arctic OCS by requiring a minimum of three lease sales in each of the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Cook Inlet planning areas during any five-year period, as well as annual lease sales in the 8(g) zone of the Beaufort and Cook Inlet planning areas. The bill also provides revenue sharing for the state, coastal communities, and a tribal resilience fund.

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The text of the bill can be found here.