Murkowski Convenes Hearing on Legislation to Provide Alaska With Fair Share of Offshore Energy Revenues

November 7, 2019

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to examine federal revenues derived from energy development as well as programs that share those revenues with state, local, and tribal governments.

As part of the hearing, the committee also received testimony on two bills:

  • S. 2418, Sen. Bill Cassidy’s (R-La.) Conservation of America’s Shoreline Terrain and Aquatic Life (COASTAL) Act, and
  • S. 2666, Sen. Martha McSally’s (R-Ariz.) Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (PLREDA).

In her opening remarks, Murkowski thanked Cassidy for introducing the COASTAL Act, which would provide Alaska and its coastal political subsidiaries with 50 percent of the revenues from energy production in its federal Outer Continental Shelf, and underscored the need to bring revenue sharing for coastal producing states into parity with onshore development. 

“Congress laid the foundation for offshore revenue sharing through the passage of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) back in 2006. At that time the bill did not include Alaska. The COASTAL Act that we are considering now would establish a revenue sharing program that would include Alaska,” Murkowski said. “Offshore revenue sharing is a matter of simple fairness. The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and Cook Inlet are American waters by virtue of Alaska, and Alaska alone. We build the infrastructure and provide the public services that are needed for responsible development, but we also bear the impacts. Those who shoulder much of that burden, it is only right that they should share in a greater opportunity for the benefit.”

Murkowski also emphasized that federal energy revenues support federal programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

“This may come as a surprise to some, but LWCF is one of the biggest beneficiaries of offshore energy development. Since the 1990s, nearly all revenue credited annually to LWCF has been from Outer Continental Shelf receipts,” Murkowski said. “In recent years, we have seen new ideas emerge for how to allocate the revenues that result from production, whether to address the parks maintenance backlog or to help with the recovery of wildlife. We have also seen proposals to cut off federal oil and gas production, immediately and without any consideration of the economic and fiscal consequences.” 

Among the hearing’s witnesses was Mayor Harry Brower of the North Slope Borough, who noted the fitting date of the hearing. November 7 is Eben Hopson Day, who was a leader for Native land claims efforts.

“Congress has already authorized resource revenue sharing throughout the United States. The Mineral Leasing Act provides for revenue sharing from onshore mineral development. The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act provides for revenue sharing from offshore oil and gas development,” Brower testified. “It would be unconscionable to oppose legislation that would extend offshore oil and gas revenue sharing to Alaska and provide a fair share of revenue from the development of Arctic resources to impacted coastal communities.” 

The other witnesses who appeared before the committee were: Gregory Gould, the Director of the Office of Natural Resources Revenue at the Department of the Interior; Chip Kline, the Director of Coastal Activities for the State of Louisiana; Randall Luthi, Chief Energy Advisory for the State of Wyoming, and Laura Comay, a specialist at the Congressional Research Service.

 Murkowski and BrowerMurkowski and Brower

S. 2418, the COASTAL Act, includes a title written by Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, to establish a revenue sharing program specific to Alaska. The program will provide resources to help facilitate the infrastructure needed for responsible development and mitigate the impacts of that development. The allowable uses of funds within the bill will ensure the State, coastal political subdivisions, individual communities, and institutions of higher education all benefit from resource production.

S. 2666, PLREDA, would streamline the permitting process for renewable energy development on public lands and establish a revenue sharing mechanism to ensure local communities receive a percentage of the revenue generated by these projects.

Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video of today’s hearing can be found on the committee’s website. Click here, here, and here to view Murkowski’s questions for the witnesses.