FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Robert Dillon (202) 224-6977
February 13, 2015
Sen. Murkowski Introduces Bill to Allow Energy Production on ANWR Coastal Plain
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, this week introduced legislation that would allow limited oil and natural gas activity within the non-wilderness coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
“For more than 30 years, Alaskans have shown that we can responsibly develop our natural resources without harming the environment,” Murkowski said. “Alaskans overwhelmingly support responsible development in the non-wilderness portion of ANWR – and there is simply no valid reason why we should not be allowed to access the world-class resources within just a tiny fraction of this immense area.”
Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced the Authorizing Alaska Production Act (S. 494) on Feb. 12. The bill, cosponsored by Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, would allow development of no more than 2,000 acres of the 1.5 million acres of the Arctic coastal plain – part of the non-wilderness portion of ANWR’s 19 million acres. That is equivalent to just 0.01 percent of the entire refuge.
“The legislation will help ensure America’s energy security for decades and allow Alaska – and our nation as a whole – to realize the benefits that come from expanding American energy production in Alaska,” Murkowski said.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the area is North America’s greatest prospect for conventional onshore oil production, with a mean likelihood of containing 10.4 billion barrels of oil and 8.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, as well as a reasonable chance of economically producing 16 billion barrels of oil.
With a resource potential comparable to Prudhoe Bay – the largest conventional oilfield in North America and one of the 20 largest fields in the world – the coastal plain represents an opportunity to create jobs, generate government revenues, keep energy prices affordable, and improve domestic energy security long into the future.
“Production and development of those resources will also prolong the life of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, provide revenues to federal, state and local governments, support job creation, and strengthen America’s energy security,” Murkowski said.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), an engineering marvel that has served as one of America’s great energy arteries for decades, is facing more and more challenges from declining throughput. Closure of the pipeline would shut down all northern Alaska oil production, devastating Alaska’s economy and deepening U.S. dependence on unstable petrostates throughout the world.
“Since the ANWR coastal plain is less than 60 miles from the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, development there is the quickest, most environmentally sound way to increase oil production in Alaska and ensure the pipeline will operate well into the future,” Murkowski said.
Future exploration and development in the Arctic offshore and National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPR-A) also depends on the long-term viability of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
For decades, Alaskans, whom polls show overwhelmingly support development of the coastal plain, have been asking permission to explore and develop the area.
The bill includes strong environmental protections for fish and wildlife habitat and subsistence resources. The bill also ensures strict consultation with the residents of the coastal plain, the community of Kaktovik, as well as the regional government, the North Slope Borough.
“As we continue to struggle with long-term unemployment and an unsustainable national debt, we need to pursue development opportunities more than ever,” Murkowski said. “The shale oil and gas boom on state and private lands in the Lower 48 has been the shining light as our economy struggles to recover from the recession. Allowing limited development on the coastal plain offers us a chance to continue to grow our economy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”