Murkowski Comments on Court Ruling on Arctic OCS

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today issued the following statement after the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska released a ruling that reinstates President Obama’s withdrawal of the vast majority of the Beaufort Sea and all of the Chukchi Sea from responsible oil and gas development.

“I strongly disagree with this ruling, which asserts that past presidents can bind their successors and only Congress can overturn those decisions,” Murkowski said. “That is not the correct interpretation of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and could have catastrophic impacts for offshore development, which creates jobs, generates revenues, and strengthens our national security. I expect this decision to be appealed and ultimately overturned—if not by the Ninth Circuit, then by the Supreme Court.” 

Just weeks before leaving office, President Obama unilaterally withdrew 125 million acres of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas from offshore oil and gas leasing. This occurred despite repeated warnings and objections from the congressional delegation and very strong support for such development among Alaskans.    

According to the Department of the Interior, the Beaufort and Chukchi seas hold an estimated 23.6 billion barrels of oil and 104.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. A 2011 analysis found that development of those resources would create an annual average of 55,000 jobs over a 50-year period and generate a total of $193 billion for local, state, and federal treasuries. Responsible development in the Arctic could also help states such as California reduce their foreign imports, which have grown significantly as Alaska production has declined.

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

Related Issues: Arctic, Energy