Republican News

Republican News

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, last week sent a letter to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) urging the agency to withdraw its Draft Regional Mitigation Strategy (DRMS) for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). The DRMS is a product of a Presidential Memorandum released in November 2015 that seeks to drive up mitigation requirements, and marks yet another attempt by the Obama administration to impose a damaging policy in Alaska in its final days.

In her letter, Chairman Murkowski outlined several fundamental flaws within the DRMS. “First, the premises of the Draft Regional Mitigation Strategy are deeply flawed. The document seeks to address conditional impacts resulting from hypothetical development and requires advanced compensation for the sustainability and enhancement of environmental conditions,” she wrote.

“The DRMS fails to establish predictability and transparency, which the president’s memorandum asserted would be key elements of updated mitigation policies…[It] fails to account for existing, ongoing mitigation measures, and lacks any direction on how to navigate the multitude of plans, processes, and overlapping federal requirements relating to mitigation,” Murkowski continued.

While noting that mitigation can be useful for projects in Alaska under the proper conditions, Murkowski concluded that “The DRMS reflects a disregard for the comments provided during the previous public comment period by the State of Alaska and others…the current modifications being made to mitigation policies in Alaska are on the wrong track, will do more harm than good, and should be rescinded.”                          

Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. She strongly opposed the “Integrated Activity Plan” that the Obama administration finalized for the NPR-A in 2012 because it unilaterally withdrew half of the reserve from energy development. Murkowski has also opposed the administration’s extralegal mitigation requirements for energy projects in the reserve, which was specifically designated for energy development. During the 114th Congress, she held two hearings focused on mitigation, which affirmed the concerns Alaskans have raised about the administration’s restrictive approach to NPR-A.