This week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been making the rounds in Alaska, with a trip that focuses heavily on the state’s natural resources. Thus far, his tour has included visits to developments on the North Slope, meetings with Senate Energy & Natural Resources Chair Lisa Murkowski, and yesterday he was the keynote speaker at the Alaska Oil and Gas Association’s (AOGA) annual conference.
At the conference, Zinke announced he was signing an order which will allow his department to renew possibilities of increasing production in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A), and across the North Slope region. The announcement and corresponding order were met with applause by the conference audience and by Alaskans around the state.
Zinke emphasized that the process will include heavy involvement and input from Alaskans:
“Working with the Alaska Native community, Interior will identify areas in the NPR-A where responsible energy development makes the most sense and devise a plan to extract resources,” Zinke said in a statement. “We will do it in a way that both respects the environment and traditional uses of the land as well as maintains subsistence hunting and fishing access.”
The announcement and order were met with cheers from Alaska’s leaders, who have long promoted responsible energy development. Governor Bill Walker praised the order saying:
“Today’s announcement marks a bright, new chapter in Alaska’s history. Thanks to Secretary Zinke’s leadership, we are ushering in an era of unprecedented federal-state partnership to develop Alaska’s resources. This order allows for greater state input as Alaskans continue our strong record of safe and responsible oil and gas development. I applaud Secretary Zinke for removing the obstacles so that Alaska can play a greater role in securing the nation’s energy dominance.”
Secretary Zinke is a welcome partner for Alaskan energy development, and he has already made great strides in emphasizing the importance and enormity of the state’s natural resources. Hopefully, the secretary will continue to usher in a new era for Alaskan energy, one full of new development opportunities and responsible natural resource production.