U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, yesterday delivered remarks at the Alaska Oil and Gas Association’s (AOGA) 2018 Conference. While speaking to the need to be ready for challenges and opposition that may arise as new development proceeds, Murkowski expressed optimism about the future and highlighted the tremendous opportunities that lie ahead to refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS).
“It was almost exactly a year ago that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke stood here and promised that in this administration, the path to energy dominance would start in Alaska,” Murkowski said. “Since then, we’ve worked together closely—with the delegation, state officials, industry leaders, and our partners at Interior—to make that a reality.”
Murkowski pointed to new discoveries and increasing access in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), the offshore Arctic, and the non-wilderness 1002 Area, along with the state’s strong record of environmental protection and technological improvements that will help ensure Alaska’s resources are produced safely.
“We had no greater victory over the past year than in our fight to open the 1002 Area of ANWR. Throughout the administrative process, we will work hard to ensure that new development protects wildlife, the environment, and traditional uses of the land,” Murkowski said. “And think about how much better the future will be now that the footprint of surface development is 80 percent smaller, directional drilling can reach 4,000 percent farther, and companies have put in place a wide range of best practices and mitigation standards.”
She also reiterated the many economic reasons why Alaska must be allowed to produce its prolific resources, which go well beyond providing a stable, long-term supply to refill TAPS.
“We all recognize that Alaska needs to be able to develop our resources, whether in the NPR-A, the offshore, or the Coastal Plain. Our unemployment rate is 7.3 percent, nearly twice the national average. Our state budget deficits are significant, shorting our ability to build infrastructure and provide essential services. We need the jobs, the revenues, and the security that new production will provide,” Murkowski said. “That’s why we have worked so hard to put a plan in place to refill TAPS for another 40 years. But we also have to defend the gains we have made. We have to tell our story. We have to prove, again and again, that we will protect wildlife and the environment.”Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.