Earlier this week, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Rep. Don Young (R-AK) wrote to Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell to reiterate their “strong support” for an offshore leasing plan that includes the Arctic. With the letter, Alaska’s leaders join the chorus of Alaskan voices that have urged the federal government to keep the Arctic open for oil and gas development.
In their letter, the lawmakers listed out several “critical” economic and national security benefits of Arctic oil and gas development, including:
1. Maintaining a supply of affordable energy for Alaskan communities:
“Maintaining and growing supply from Cook Inlet – particularly through new federal lease sales – is essential to providing affordable energy for communities throughout Southcentral Alaska.”
2. Supporting Alaska’s economy:
“The production of resources in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas will create thousands of jobs at a time of high unemployment and generate billions of dollars in new revenues at a time of steep deficits.”
3. Keeping the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) alive:
“New production in northern Alaska is also vital to the continued safe operation of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), a national security asset that is currently operating at far less than half of its capacity. The loss of TAPS would create an emergency situation for millions of Americans, particularly those that live along the West Coast.”
4. Bolstering American energy security:
“According to the reference case in the federal Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2015, U.S. oil production is projected to level off in the early 2020s and then slowly decline through 2040. As a result, our nation’s recently diminished reliance on foreign oil is projected to rise again and average over seven million barrels per day, on a net basis, by 2040.”
For these reasons, the lawmakers have joined many others in urging the DOI to include the Arctic in the agency’s upcoming five-year oil and gas leasing program:
“The areas under consideration for leasing in Alaska’s OCS [Outer Continental Shelf] 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.”
Image Credit: Alaska Journal of Commerce
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