Murkowski Invites President Obama to “Milkshake” Summit on ANWR Development

Horizontal Drilling Plan Would Create Jobs, Generate Revenue, Reduce Gas Prices

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today invited President Barack Obama to a “milkshake” summit to discuss a new approach to opening the non-wilderness portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to responsible oil and gas development. 

Murkowski’s invitation was motivated by an exchange at today’s White House Press Briefing, during which Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about the President’s position on legislation that Murkowski introduced last year.  Carney responded that he hadn’t had a “discussion with [the President] about the milkshake principle.” 

“I know that the President and the First Lady enjoy milkshakes, and it would be my honor to treat them as we discuss the innovative technologies that will allow us to put a ‘straw’ into North America’s largest oil field from outside ANWR boundaries,” said Murkowski.  “Without any harm to the surface of the coastal plain, we can produce a huge volume of oil at a time when our nation desperately needs it.”  

Murkowski introduced S. 351, the “No Surface Occupancy Western Arctic Coastal Plain Domestic Energy Security Act,” in February 2011.  It is co-sponsored by Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), John Barrasso (R-WY), and John Hoeven (R-ND).  Senator David Vitter (R-LA) joined as a cosponsor to a parallel amendment that Murkowski offered on the Senate floor earlier this week. 

Current technology allows horizontal, extended reach drilling to access oil up to 8 miles away from the drilling site.

“The White House has indicated its support for safe and responsible oil production, and it doesn’t get more safe and responsible than this,” said Murkowski.

The full text of S. 351 is located here. The exchange from today’s press briefing is below.

QUESTION: Yes, I wanted to ask you about ANWR. When the President was a senator, he helped filibuster it seven years ago. Now we have a new, novel approach from both Alaska senators that would basically allow you to drink ANWR's milkshake from adjacent state lands. (Laughter.) I'm wondering --
MR. CARNEY: I'm not sure I follow that, but okay.

QUESTION: They say you can drill horizontally under ANWR, up to eight miles -- potentially get at a lot of that oil. And they also say, hey, if the President hadn't helped block it a number of years ago, it could have been producing a million barrels a day, which would have maybe not have -- maybe it wouldn't be a silver bullet, but would have been a bullet in dealing with high gas prices, potentially keeping tens of billions of dollars here. Does the President still want -- still say that ANWR is off the table? And is there -- would he be willing to look at something like that, that gets you some additional oil?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I haven't had a discussion with him about the milkshake principle. (Laughter.) But I can tell you that the Department of Interior recently approved Shell's Beaufort Sea oil spill response plan for potential activities off the coast of Alaska that could lead to greater development there. And this President is committed to expanding domestic oil and gas production in a safe and responsible way.

And any suggestion that that's not the case -- I think it's worth noting that in 2011, we held a lease sale in the western Gulf of Mexico that made available more than 21 million acres, equal to an area the size of South Carolina. And yet, just over 1 million acres was leased by industry. Twenty million acres went un-leased.

So there are -- we are making available substantial areas for oil and gas production. We will continue to do that, whether it's Alaska or the announcement -- the step forward that Secretary Salazar announced yesterday that Interior is taking to assess the conventional and renewable energy resource potential in the mid and south Atlantic. We're approaching this holistically and examining every opportunity to further develop oil and gas in this country in a safe and responsible way.

I don't have any specifics for you beyond what I just said about Alaska. But the President is committed to the safe and responsible principle, as well as increasing oil and gas production.