Arctic Oil and Gas Development Is Over-Regulated: Let’s Listen to Local Voices

March 2, 2016 in Blog, Local Perspective

Over the past few months, Arctic Energy Center has written about how the burden of excessive regulations on Arctic oil and gas development is threatening America’s energy future, to the detriment of local Alaskans and Americans across the country. But don’t take our word for it. Take a look at what Alaska Natives, lawmakers, and local elected officials have said about the over-regulation of the Arctic (emphasis added).

Alaska Natives

Rex A. Rock, Sr., President and CEO, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC):

“Closer to home on the North Slope, we are looking for solutions on how we continue to sustain our local economies to support our communities.  Absent any responsible resource development onshore and offshore, we are facing a fiscal crisis beyond measure. The federal regulatory environment has proven to be a burden for any development, whether onshore or offshore. With this type of uncertainty, we will continue to see good opportunities slip away because no one wants to do business in Alaska.” (September 2015)

Richard Glenn, Executive Vice President of Lands & Natural Resources, ASRC:

“We’re facing a loss of oil production due to the decline of the big oil fields, a lack of new major discoveries and regulatory uncertainties. … And the people who are in charge of keeping the lights on in each of our communities say, ‘How are we going to keep TAPS [Trans-Alaska Pipeline System] full?'” (August 2015)

Crawford Patkotak, Executive Vice President of Stakeholder Engagement, ASRC:

“[The Department of the Interior’s decision to cancel lease sales for offshore Arctic drilling is another step] by the current administration to put us back to poverty and cut our legs out from under us as we try to live the American dream and provide opportunity for our people.” (October 2015)


Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK):

“What we need – but still do not have – is a predictable and sensible regulatory system both onshore and offshore that encourages companies to make major investments in our future. Continued uncertainty will only further damage our competitiveness and our economy. And so today, I call on the administration to work with Alaskans – to develop a legitimate plan, driven by our input and preferences, to ensure the prolific resources in our federal areas are produced.” (September 2015)

“It is absurd that Interior has created a regulatory environment where operators cannot have commercially viable exploration programs, because so many requirements and hurdles have been put in place, and then blames them for not moving forward. There is not a lack of interest in the Arctic – if anything, what we are seeing is a lack of interest in working with the current leadership of the Interior Department.” (October 2015)

All of these decisions ignore the will of hard-working Alaskans, who overwhelmingly support new production. The administration is opening the door for Iranian oil production, but closing it on Alaskan oil. And while the consequences are not yet evident, they will be. … These decisions mean fewer jobs, less security for our country, and more of our dollars going overseas. They threaten the safe operation of our Trans-Alaska Pipeline, a national security asset that is just one-third full. And it is only a matter of time until the administration applies this short-sighted strategy to the rest of our nation.” (October 2015)

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK):

“Shell’s announcement [that it is withdrawing from the Arctic] is being cheered by environmental groups, but it’s a very sad day for Alaska and for working Alaskans and Americans across the country. From the beginning, through unprecedented regulatory hurdles and delays, the Obama administration and its environmental allies have created the conditions for Shell to abandon its Arctic drilling program. And they succeeded.” (September 2015)

“[The Obama administration] just took real opportunity, significant opportunities that could benefit thousands if not tens of thousands of Alaskans off the table. … That’s not going to help the social problems. That’s actually going to make them worse.” (October 2015)

Rep. Don Young (R-AK):

“This administration’s aggressive top-down agenda has and continues to restrict economic growth and damage the ability for our people to provide for themselves. Their onslaught of federal rules and regulations – never passed by Congress or subject to legitimate public input by local communities – have managed to lock away millions of acres of public lands, halt responsible resource development and production on land and offshore, and taken Alaskan and American jobs off the table at a time when we need them most.” (August 2015)

“This Administration continues to say they are committed to a balanced approach to resource development, but Alaskans are seeing that this is a falsehood. A five year plan was put on the table in vain, only to later take off the table vast swaths of the most desirable and economically feasible offshore areas. Further, their regulatory actions have not created security to invest in Alaska – they have scared off investment at the expense of the Alaskan people.” (October 2015)

Local Elected Officials

Gov. Bill Walker (I):

“Alaska must be able to responsibly explore and develop our rich natural resources both onshore and offshore. Any action that limits our ability to explore for more oil—to increase much-needed oil production through the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline—creates unnecessary uncertainty and burden on our economy.” (October 2015)

Alaska Speaker of the House Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski):

“This is a punch in the gut. Shell’s decision, based on their findings, after being hamstrung by our federal government is a sad statement on the future of our offshore oil and gas prospects. We need better governmental systems in place, federally. Companies shouldn’t have to invest billions of dollars and wait years due to an abrasive and confrontational government.”(September 2015)

Alaska House Majority Representative Ben Nageak (D-Barrow):

“Our people have been paying close attention to Shell’s actions and plans, and (the announcement) is heartbreaking for us. We stood on the cusp of another economic boom that could have propelled our young people and their children to better futures. Instead, due to strangulation of Shell’s proposal by our draconian and poisoned federal government, one well coming up dry is all it took for the company to say it’s not worth it anymore in the Alaska Arctic.” (September 2015)

Paul Fuhs, former mayor of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor:

“Yes, there is risk to any endeavor such as this, but let’s remember that we have been drilling in ice covered waters in similar depths for over 40 years in Cook Inlet without ever having a major incident. And the regulations for drilling in the Arctic are even stricter.” (September 2015)