Alaska’s congressional delegation presses Interior on OCS development

5/18/2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Alaska’s congressional delegation—Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young—has sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell urging the Department to keep all three lease sales proposed for Alaska’s OCS in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) final Five-Year Program for the years 2017 to 2022.

“The areas under consideration for leasing in Alaska’s OCS contain vast resources that our nation will need to maintain its economy and security. Those resources can be produced safely if a stable, predictable regulatory regime is put in place. Bringing them to market is favored by most Alaskans and will help maintain affordable energy prices for the American people. With longer lead times and considerable investment required for production in the Alaska OCS, it is critical that the process begin now with new, area-wide lease sales,” the members wrote.

The congressional delegation also expressed frustration with the Interior Department’s actions to stifle energy development in the Arctic. The Department has delayed and canceled lease sales that were scheduled for Alaska’s OCS, and included just three lease sales for Alaska in its Proposed Five-Year Program: one in the Beaufort Sea, in 2020; one in the Cook Inlet, in 2021; and one in the Chukchi Sea, in 2022.

The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off of Alaska’s northern coast contain an estimated 23.6 Bbbl of oil and 104.4 Tcf of natural gas. An analysis by Northern Economics and the Institute for Social and Economic Research found that development of those resources could create 35,000 jobs and generate billions of dollars in revenues for the state and local governments. Offshore development is also strongly supported by Alaskans, with a 2014 poll finding that 73% of local residents support Arctic drilling.

After outlining the economic benefits that would come to Alaska and the nation with expanded energy development in Alaska’s OCS, the delegation concluded the letter by urging Secretary Jewell to keep Alaska’s OCS leases in the proposed plan.

“We ask that you recognize Alaska’s strong preference for expanded OCS development within the Five-Year Program for 2017-2022. We urge you to maintain all three proposed sales for the Alaska OCS in the final Program. We also encourage you to work collaboratively with us to make the fundamental regulatory improvements that are necessary to prudently advance the development of the critical resources located in our state,” the members wrote.

Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, will press the administration to maintain its proposed lease sales in Alaska’s OCS at Thursday’s oversight hearing on BOEM’s 2017-2022 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

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