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Delegation: This Is A Historic Moment For Alaska

Press Release

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and U.S. Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, issued the following statements after the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held the first lease sale for lands in the non-wilderness Coastal Plain (1002 Area) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

"The first lease sale in the 1002 Area was the result of many Alaskans' tireless efforts over the course of decades. While it did not occur under ideal conditions, it will benefit Alaskans both in the short-term and well into the future," Murkowski said. "I thank Secretary Bernhardt and his team for creating a balanced program for responsible development and ensuring this sale was carried out as required by law. The resources that stand to be produced from a very small part of the 1002 Area will be critical to creating jobs, generating revenues, refilling the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, and ensuring our nation's continued energy security. I look forward to leases being awarded to the winning bidders in the near future, and to the continued faithful implementation of this important program."

"After forty years and extensive congressional and administrative consideration, we have finally achieved a lease sale for the 1002 Area of ANWR as Congress mandated in 2017," Sullivan said. "I want to thank Secretary Bernhardt and the Interior Department staff for creating a comprehensive and durable leasing program that appropriately balances resource development and environmental protection in the 1002 Area. This lease sale is a testament to their good work and provides the basis for further development as Congress laid out in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. I look forward to orderly development in the 1002 Area that will provide good-paying jobs for hard-working Alaskans, fill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and boost our economy. But this effort would not have come to pass without the support and tireless advocacy of Alaskans, most importantly, those who live in ANWR. This achievement belongs to these Alaskans for their grit and perseverance, and I celebrate with all of them."

"After our fight of over four decades, we have welcomed the first lease sale in the 1002 Area of ANWR. Securing drilling rights on the Coastal Plain has been one of my career's highest priorities, and seeing the culmination of hard work by countless individuals, including our late Senator Ted Stevens, is very special to witness. This is a tremendous step forward for our state and the countless Alaskans who make a living in our energy sector. We have finally achieved what was promised when President Carter signed ANILCA into law. Alaskans have always been good stewards of their own land, and they know how to balance environmental protection with energy development. BLM's lease sale is good news not only for energy independence but also for the primarily Alaska Native community of Kaktovik, who have been steadfast partners in the fight to explore for energy in ANWR. The positive economic impact this will have for the Inupiat people is immense, and will help provide them with good-paying jobs, upward mobility, and the basic infrastructure that too many of us take for granted. I want to thank President Trump, Secretary Bernhardt, and everyone at BLM who has worked diligently to help make this happen. I will be waiting with great excitement for the day oil rigs arrive, and drilling begins," Young said.

The second title of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which became law in December 2017, authorizes the surface development of up to 2,000 federal acres of the non-wilderness Coastal Plain (roughly one ten-thousandth of all of ANWR). The U.S. Geological Survey estimates this area contains 10.4 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil that could be sent to states like California, which has grown significantly more dependent on foreign oil as Alaska production has declined.

Alaska has a strong record of responsible resource development. The footprint of drilling pads on the North Slope has declined by 80 percent since the 1970s, while the reach of underground drilling has grown by 4,000 percent. The result is that less land is being used to develop resources than ever before; many modern sites cover just a few acres and are miles apart. The Central Arctic Caribou herd, which ranges throughout Prudhoe Bay, has seen its population grow for sustained periods alongside development on the North Slope.

ANWR spans 19.3 million acres, an area of land roughly equal in size to South Carolina, in northeast Alaska. In 1980, Congress designated more than eight million acres within ANWR -- an area of land significantly larger than Maryland -- as federal wilderness as part of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. That same legislation set aside the 1.57-million acre Coastal Plain for petroleum exploration and potential future development, which is supported by a majority of Alaskans.

More information on this week's lease sale is available on BLM's website.

To read the delegation's recent op-ed on the 1002 Area program, click here.


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