Senate Committee Hears Testimonies Supporting Arctic Oil and Gas Leasing

May 20, 2016 in Blog

Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to examine the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, during which the Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and several of the witnesses affirmed the significance of Arctic oil and gas development – and why the Program ought to include lease sales in the Arctic.

In her opening statement, Sen. Murkowski said she was “disappointed” by the proposed Five-Year Program, and that the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) “bare minimum” plan for Alaska was “unacceptable”:

The Committee heard from experts well versed in the subject at hand, including John Hopson, Mayor of the City of Wainwright, Alaska, who gave a testimony of the importance of oil and gas development to his community based on his insight as a mayor, a whaling captain and a commissioner on the Alaska Whaling Commission, a member of the North Slope Borough Assembly, and a shareholder of Olgoonik Corporation and of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation:

Dr. Donald F. Boesch, Professor of Marine Science and President of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences, discussed the “many steps” the oil and gas industry has taken to reduce the risks of offshore oil and gas exploration and production:

Dr. Joseph Mason of the Louisiana State University’s Ourso College of Business discussed how low oil prices are not a reason to forgo leasing, and how restricting leasing would actually increase greenhouse gas emissions:

Wrapping up the hearing, Sen. Murkowski commented on the “beauty” of the significant exploration work that was conducted in Alaska decades ago – that “we’ve forgotten all about it because we didn’t have any problems.” With that in mind, she cautioned against suggesting that the Arctic would be “so special and unique” that lease sales there should warrant any special treatment. And that’s why the Department of the Interior ought to include the Arctic in its upcoming offshore leasing plan, as Sen. Murkowski, Mayor Hopson, Dr. Boesch, Dr. Mason – and many others – have urged.