February 19, 2004
"Alaska has a great deal at stake at NPR-A, in terms of royalties, as well as jobs and the economic activity associated with oil exploration and development," Murkowski said. "The state clearly has an interest in making sure NPR-A leases are kept on the Department of the Interior's schedule.
"I am confident that the BLM went through a complete and thorough public process in crafting the Environmental Impact Analysis that has most recently come under attack. Murkowski said. "It is important to remember that NPR-A is a petroleum reserve and BLM has a responsibility to balance environmental protection with oil and gas development. A review of BLM's conclusions demonstrates the high level of wildlife protection that they have incorporated into their analysis. For example, 1.5 million acres have been deferred for ten years while BLM evaluates potential impacts. BLM has also committed to in-depth studies related to Black Brant and caribou. It is refreshing to see a federal organization that is making a real commitment to collecting and evaluating scientific information before it makes hard and fast decisions that will affect Alaskans for decades to come.
"Once again, we find the 'lock-up Alaska' attitude of the environmental organizations has resulted in a legal challenge to the public process," Murkowski said. "I'm sure they would like nothing more than to be able to delay indefinitely any reasonable use of the National Petroleum Reserve. The fact is that it is a petroleum reserve. It should be used for the purpose for which it was aside in 1923. Reducing America's dependence on foreign oil is a laudable objective of the Bush administration, but it is not compatible with the agenda of the environmentalists."
The NPR-A contains 23 million
acres of land, about the size of Indiana. Since its creation,
there have been 54 exploration wells drilled at NPR-A, and more
than 16,000 miles of seismic data collected. Three more wells
are scheduled for completion this winter season, and commercial
discoveries have been announced in the northeast quadrant, the
area closest to Prudhoe Bay. Most recent reports by the U.S.
Geological Survey estimate the area contains between 1.3 and
5.6 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil, and between
40 and 80 trillion cubic feet of gas.
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