Republican News

Republican News

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, this week, underscored the criticality of oil and gas production in the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to Alaska and the entire nation. In her remarks at the Arctic Energy Center’s Offshore Arctic Investment Briefing, Murkowski highlighted the importance of energy development to Alaska communities and the challenges they will face if the Department of the Interior removes Arctic lease sales from its next Five-Year Program. 

“The problem is that right now, Interior has just two Arctic sales in its next Five-Year Program: one in 2020 for the Beaufort Sea, and one in 2022 for the Chukchi Sea,” Murkowski said.  “To me, that’s a bare minimum effort, and a far cry from the area-wide sales that Alaskans have been asking for. This also comes after Interior has repeatedly delayed and canceled sales in the Arctic OCS in recent years, even though it is perhaps the most prospective offshore region in our country.”

Murkowski pointed to the significant resources contained within the Arctic OCS, indicating that efforts to prevent development are not only misguided, but also have the high potential of harming the U.S. economy and national security.

“The United States is projected to continue importing oil through 2040, despite an abundance of resources right beneath our feet and waters,” Murkowski said. “To forsake Arctic oil and gas would be to forsake America’s energy security in a world that is using more energy, not less. It will leave us at an economic and environmental disadvantage. It will benefit the likes of Iran and Saudi Arabia. It will result in fewer jobs created here at home, fewer dollars staying within our economy, less affordable energy for our families and businesses, and less influence for our nation on the world stage.”

Murkowski stressed the importance of responsible production and environmental protection in the Arctic and pointed to Alaska’s long-standing record of success.

“Dozens of wells were safely drilled in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in the 1980s and 1990s, using equipment and technologies that are grossly outdated by today’s higher standards,” Murkowski said. “I would also remind you: this will be taking place in Alaska, which has a long history of successful environmental stewardship. For decades, we have worked to ensure that development does not impact our subsistence traditions, commercial fishing, and the pristine allure of our state.”

Murkowski also noted that a strong majority of Alaskans favor energy production in the Arctic and that Interior’s restrictive Five-Year Program runs counter to their support.

“A 2014 survey noted that 73 percent of Alaskans favor offshore development in the Arctic – making it roughly as popular as new production in the non-wilderness portion of ANWR and our National Petroleum Reserve,” Murkowski said. “Groups like the Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat, representing 20 of the 28 tribal and community entities on the North Slope, plus the clear majority of Alaska Native groups who submitted comments to the Department of the Interior, support Arctic OCS development.”

To view an archived video of the Offshore Arctic Investment Briefing, click here.