Murkowski Testifies to Promote Accelerated NPR-A Drilling

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today testified before a House Natural Resources subcommittee on the importance of reforming permitting processes that have stalled responsible development of critical oil and natural gas resources in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). 

While the Obama administration has promised to hold annual lease sales in NPR-A, the biggest obstacle to responsible oil and gas development is not the lack of leases but the inability of companies to navigate the permitting process in a timely manner.

“We have a permitting problem, not just a leasing problem,” Murkowski said. “If every time a leaseholder wants to produce from the NPR-A, it requires congressional hearings and years of involvement from this many elected officials, we will not be in much better position next time.”

Murkowski pointed to the broken commitment made to Alaska in 1980, when President Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) into law. While signing the legislation, President Carter stated that “100 percent of [Alaska’s] offshore areas and 95 percent of the potentially productive [onshore] oil and mineral areas will be available for exploration or for drilling.” 

 “As the Interior Department reported last spring, less than 1 percent of federal lands in Alaska, and none of our federal offshore lands, are producing any oil or natural gas,” Murkowski said. “This is shameful and unacceptable because it represents not only a failure of the federal government to allow taxpayers to benefit from their federal resources, but also because it is an outright broken promise to the people of the state of Alaska.”

Murkowski also questioned the validity of the most recent estimate of oil and gas resources in NPR-A because of the U.S. Geological Survey’s failure to consider the most promising areas, and included no new field data, in their review. The USGS also failed to consult with the state of Alaska during the revision.

Murkowski has pressed the administration on permitting issues connected with CD-5, the first proposed development within NPR-A. While some progress has been made, Murkowski intends to introduce legislation in the Senate, as a companion measure to H.R. 2150, that would expedite NPR-A development.