U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today voiced her continued support for the state of Alaska's plan to fully assess the potential oil and natural gas resources in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) coastal plain.
"The coastal plain holds valuable oil and natural gas resources, which is why Congress reserved it for oil production more than 30 years ago," Murkowski said. "Any effort to change the way the area is managed must only be considered with the best available information. Gov. Parnell's offer to help pay for a full resource assessment of the coastal plain using 3-D seismic is generous, sensible and legally allowed under the 1980 lands act."
The ANWR coastal plain offers the United States' best chance of a major onshore, domestic oil and natural gas discovery. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the coastal plain has a 50 percent chance of containing 10.4 billion barrels of oil and 8.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, resources worth more than $1 trillion at current market prices. Those estimates are based on old two-dimensional seismic studies done in 1982-1983.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is drafting a new management plan for the refuge, which is expected to include new wilderness designation recommendations for the coastal plain. Such a recommendation without knowing the full potential of the coastal plain is irresponsible, Murkowski said.
"The problem with Fish and Wildlife Service's work on a new management plan is that it fails to consider the potential economic benefits of oil and gas production. They claim that's because development would require an act of Congress, but, of course, so would a wilderness designation -- their argument doesn't hold up," Murkowski said. "Instead of trying to lock up our resources, we should develop them as part of a balanced energy plan that creates jobs, invests in research and technology, and bolsters our economy."
Murkowski is the senior senator from Alaska and the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.