Alaska’s delegation asks Obama not to take a parting OCS policy shot

Alaska’s three-member congressional delegation—US Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young—reiterated their strong opposition to US President Barack Obama’s possibly withdrawing more of the state’s offshore acreage from future oil and gas leasing under Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).

The three Republican federal lawmakers encouraged the president in a Dec. 8 letter to act in accordance with the law’s intent by recognizing that OCSLA already ensures responsible development, honoring deeply held promises the federal government made to Alaskans under the Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), and support Arctic development instead.

“President Obama has canceled lease sales, made permits all but impossible to acquire, and excluded Arctic basins from the next offshore leasing plan. That’s more than enough damage for one administration,” said Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Sullivan, meanwhile, said, “After the recent election, the president needs to listen to the American people and stop kowtowing to extreme environmental activists at the expense of America’s economic and energy security and good paying jobs for tens of thousands across the country.”

The delegation said it believes withdrawing acreage within the Arctic OCS using Section 12(a) is unwarranted and unnecessary. It said that Alaska’s governor, the leadership of the North Slope and Northwest Arctic boroughs, the majority of the tribal leadership representing Alaska Natives who live in the Arctic, a supermajority of the state legislature, and an overwhelming majority of Alaskans support responsible development, rather than withdrawals, within these areas.

“At a time when Alaskan families and businesses are asking for economic certainty, this administration continues to throw up roadblocks and red tape in the hopes of solidifying its legacy with some of the most extreme environmental groups,” said Young. “Rest assured, we will take the steps necessary to pave the path for an energy policy and plan that truly allows Alaska and the nation to develop its robust natural resource potential.”

They sent their letter to Obama weeks after the US Department of the Interior released a proposed final program for the 2017-22 US Outer Continental Shelf management plan that deleted previously scheduled oil and gas lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off Alaska’s coast (OGJ Online, Nov. 21, 2016).

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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