Alaska Legislature Encourages Congress to Open the Coastal Plain of ANWR to Oil and Gas Exploration
February 22, 2017
“ANWR holds tremendous untapped oil and gas resources that can be safely developed to the benefit of Alaska, the nation, and the world,” said Rep. Westlake. “This resolution expresses the will of the people of Alaska and the Alaska Legislature that it’s time to end the partisan gridlock in Washington D.C. by putting aside politics and listening to what the people want.”
A United States Geological Survey (USGS) study of the 1002 area of ANWR conducted in 1998 estimated the oil reserves at over 10 billion barrels. That same study estimated that the central North Slope and the 1002 area could contain up to 46 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
“The oil industry in Alaska supports thousands of jobs and is a vital pillar of our economy. Imagine the new jobs that can be created if we can find a way to unlock the economic potential of ANWR by taking the shackles off the industry and letting them do what they do best, which is find and produce oil and gas,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham).
In addition to asking for approval to open up the coastal plain of ANWR, HJR 5 recognizes the states long standing support for renewable and alternative energy resources.
Earlier this month, HJR 5 passed the Alaska House of Representatives by a vote of 31-4. Today, the Alaska Senate passed the resolution by a vote of 18-2.
The Alaska National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1980 with the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), which designated nearly 19.5 million acres as wildlife refuge. Section 1002 of ANILCA set aside 1.5 million acres for possible oil and gas development, but it would take an act of Congress for that development to move forward.
“The ability of the oil industry to safely operate in the Arctic is evidenced by the responsible development of Prudhoe Bay and other fields,” said Rep. Westlake. “I have no doubt that legislation can be crafted in Congress that can allow for development in ANWR while protecting the natural environment and the subsistence resources that are vital to my region.”
HJR 5 includes language specifically calling for any oil and gas exploration and development that occurs within ANWR to be conducted in a manner that protects the environment and the Central Arctic and Porcupine caribou that sustain the residents of the North Slope.
In January 2015, President Obama announced his plans to ask Congress to designate the Coastal Plain and other core areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness. If Congress chooses to act, it would be the largest ever wilderness designation since Congress passed the visionary Wilderness Act over 50 years ago.
“Designating vast areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness reflects the significance this landscape holds for America and its wildlife,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in January. “Just like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of our nation’s crown jewels and we have an obligation to preserve this spectacular place for generations to come.”
The Interior Department planned to immediately begin managing the 1.5 million acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness – adding to the 18 million acres of ANWR already designated wilderness.
Secretary Jewell also said in January 2015 that President Obama planned to indefinitely withdraw areas in the offshore Arctic from oil and gas leasing in the new five-year plan being released later this week, which will effectively ban development in large swaths of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. It was unclear at the time how these new restrictions would affect areas already under lease.
In response to the January 2015 announcement, Alaska’s Congressional Delegation and Gov. Bill Walker denounced President Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for launching an unprecedented assault on Alaska that would have long-lasting effects on the state’s economy and the nation’s energy security.
On the Web:
Reporting and Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
Source of News:
Representations of fact and opinions in comments posted are solely those of the individual posters and do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.