US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.) introduced legislation that would end the ban on US crude oil exports, and establish federal Outer Continental Shelf revenue sharing for southern Mid-Atlantic and additional Gulf Coast states as well as Alaska.
The July 23 measure, which she called the Offshore Production and Energizing National Security (OPENS) Act, is separate from the more comprehensive energy policy bill jointly introduced the same day by Murkowski and Ranking Minority Member Maria E. Cantwell (D-Wash.).
That bill’s primary oil and gas provisions deal with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, LNG exports, and working more closely with states on oil and gas exploration and production oversight. It is one of 20 bills scheduled for markup on July 28 before the full committee.
Murkowski said her own bill is a combination of four measures the committee has reviewed already, including S. 1312, the Energy Supply and Distribution Act, and S. 1278, the Alaska Offshore Lease Sale Act.
The senator emphasized Alaska when she explained why she felt the OPENS Act was necessary. “With exploration proceeding in the Chukchi Sea, and the Alaska offshore emerging as a key part of our national energy security, it is critical that we ensure revenue sharing for the state and coastal communities,” she said.
She said Alaska’s OCS in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas contain an estimated 23.6 billion bbl of oil and 104.4 tcf of gas. Cook Inlet near Anchorage, which supplies gas to south-central and interior Alaska, contains another estimated 19 tcf, she said.
Murkowski said her bill specifically would:
• Establish federal oil and gas revenue sharing on the Alaska OCS for the state and for coastal communities.
• Increase access to additional resources by requiring a minimum of three lease sales in each of the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Cook Inlet planning areas during any 5-year period, and annual lease sales in the 8(g) zone of the Beaufort and Cook Inlet planning areas in future 5-year OCS plans.
• Establish the Tribal Resilience Program, creating a fund for tribal entities for investments in energy systems and critical infrastructure to combat erosion, improve health and safety, and foster resilient communities.
• Direct funds in the near term for workforce development, investments in science, and permitting to ensure Alaska OCS crude oil has a pathway to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.
Murkowski said the OPENS Act also provides revenue sharing and key protections for OCS development in the Gulf of Mexico and the off the southern Mid-Atlantic coast, improves permitting for OCS development, and lifts the ban on crude oil exports.
Allowing more exports from the Lower 48 will increase demand for North Slope crude oil at West Coast refineries by creating an outlet for crude produced in the US Midcontinent, she said.
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