Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Alaska State Senate passed a resolution to support responsible development in a small area of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.
Senator Chris Birch, (R) of Anchorage, requested the Bureau of Land Management implement an oil and gas leasing program in the coastal plain of ANWR, “Development in ANWR is critical to the future of Alaska’s economy,” said Sen. Birch. “It has the potential to create thousands of jobs for Alaskans and bring in billions in revenue to state coffers.”
An amendment to require 90-percent of the tax revenue to come to Alaska, supported by Democrats, was withdrawn.
The resolution further urges the BLM to consider Alaska’s long history of safe and responsible oil and gas development on Alaska's North Slope, the enormous benefits ANWR development would bring to the state and the nation, the advances in technology that continue to reduce the impact of activity, and the support of residents from the North Slope Borough and across the North Slope of Alaska for oil and gas development in a portion of the coastal plain. “Maintaining progress on the ANWR leasing program shows that Alaska is indeed open for business,” said Sen. Birch. “This resolution will serve as the 31st Legislature’s official comment on the Interior Department’s Draft EIS, which is the first step in a long regulatory process toward an oil and gas leasing program for the ANWR coastal plain.”
Since the passage of ANILCA nearly 40 years ago, the Alaska Legislature has continually urged Congress to allow exploration and development in ANWR, which contains an estimated 7.7 billion barrels of oil and 7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
With the passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress finally granted that approval and directed the Secretary of the Interior to establish and administer a competitive oil and gas leasing program for the 1002 Area. Public comment on this draft EIS is open until March 13, 2019, after which the BLM will prepare a final environmental impact statement and issue a record of decision on how to conduct the leasing program.
SJR 7 passed the Senate by a vote of 16-2 and is now on its way to the Alaska House of Representatives for consideration