Murkowski: Tapping ANWR Improves Energy Security and Reduces Deficit

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today introduced two pieces of legislation to increase domestic oil production by tapping the energy reserves in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

“Now is the time to develop our domestic oil reserves in the ANWR coastal plain,” Murkowski said. “For far too long, we’ve kept resources under lock and key that could improve our energy security and create badly-needed jobs. There’s no excuse for continuing to pay foreign countries for resources we have here.”

The American Energy Independence and Security Act would provide the most efficient development of ANWR’s resources by allowing exploration and production within the coastal plain of ANWR. The legislation would require the Secretary of the Interior to lease at least 200,000 acres of the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain within two years of its passage. Infrastructure – including all roads, airfields, drilling pads, pipelines and other facilities – would be restricted to 2,000 acres to minimize environmental impact on the region. Revenue from ANWR oil production would be divided between environmental mitigation and federal deficit reduction. The bill would also dedicate a portion of ANWR revenues to fund renewable and alternative energy development, wildlife and fishery habitat programs, energy conservation and low-income energy subsidies.

In the spirit of compromise, Murkowski also introduced an ANWR alternative bill, the No Surface Occupancy Western Arctic Coastal Plain Domestic Energy Security Act, which would allow oil and natural gas production from the ANWR coastal plain only through the use of directional drilling from state lands adjacent to the refuge.

“While this compromise is not my first choice, I believe it’s a reasonable alternative that should silence any potential controversy over ANWR development,” Murkowski said. “It allows us to increase domestic oil production without the same risk of environmental impact, making it a commonsense solution that everyone should be able to embrace.”

Domestic oil production has been safely occurring in Alaska’s Arctic for more than 30 years. Today, Alaska’s North Slope produces roughly 13 percent of the U.S. domestic production. New production is vital to the continued operation of the trans-Alaska pipeline, which delivers Alaska’s oil to the Lower 48.

The ANWR coastal plain holds America’s greatest potential for a major oil and natural gas discovery. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the coastal plain has a 50 percent chance of containing 10.4 billion barrels of oil and 8.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Even the recent oil discoveries in North Dakota pale in comparison to ANWR’s potential, which is likely to hold over four times more oil than any other onshore energy deposit in North America. ANWR’s oil reserves are worth $1 trillion at today’s oil prices of $100 a barrel.

“America will continue to use substantial amounts of oil for decades to come,” Murkowski said. “The more of that oil we can produce domestically, the better off our economy, our trade deficit, our employment levels and the world’s environment will be.”

The full texts of both bills are attached, along with an ANWR fact sheet.