U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, and U.S. Rep. Don Young, all R-Alaska, today expressed their strong support for a new Secretarial Order signed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at the Alaska Oil and Gas Association’s annual conference. The order will help evaluate the vast resources within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) and the non-wilderness 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, while also restoring access and ultimately increasing production needed to refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
“This Secretarial Order is exactly the type of announcement that so many Alaskans have been asking for: a smart, timely step to restore access to our lands, throughput to our Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and growth to our economy under reasonable regulations that do not sacrifice environmental protections,” Murkowski said. “I thank Secretary Zinke for traveling to Alaska this week, for meeting with stakeholders to understand the unique needs and opportunities of our state, and for moving quickly to ensure we are finally allowed to realize more of our tremendous resource potential.”
“I applaud Secretary Zinke’s order to responsibly evaluate how best to realize the development potential of Alaska’s vast energy resources in the NPR-A and 1002 Area,” Sullivan said. “With this order, the Administration will allow the country to finally deliver on the promised energy security and abundance we had in mind when Congress set these lands aside for future exploration and development. To grow our economy and maintain U.S. leadership in the world, America must remain an energy superpower. Robust Alaskan energy development will make this a reality.”
“Secretary Zinke’s order, coupled with a very clear commitment to serve as Alaska’s partner, represents exactly what our state and people have demanded from the Department of Interior for years,” Young said. “The message couldn’t be clearer, this administration understands the importance of responsible resource development in Alaska and the Arctic and is focused on addressing the many bureaucratic roadblocks that have stood in our way for far too long. As we work to refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System and unleash Alaska’s full energy potential, I can think of no better time to double our efforts to strengthen opportunities within the NPR-A, to create a stable and reliable regulatory environment, and move forward on accessing and developing our nation’s rich deposits of oil and gas, particularly in the 1002 Area of ANWR. Under Secretary Zinke’s leadership, I believe Alaska no longer has an adversary in the Department of Interior, but a willing partner.”
Secretarial Order 3352 calls for a review of the current Integrated Activity Plan for NPR-A, which put half of the reserve’s surface acreage off-limits to development in 2013. Secretary Zinke pledged to work in consultation with the Inupiat and other stakeholders in the Alaska Native community to develop a revised plan to ensure the most productive areas within NPR-A are open for responsible energy development.
The Secretarial Order also requires the development of a plan to update federal resource assessments for both NPR-A and the 1002 Area. In 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey revised its assessment for NPR-A downward, drawing criticism from state officials who believed its oil and gas estimates were reduced too far.
Murkowski is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. More information about the new Secretarial Order is available here.