Delegation Applauds Issuance of Leases for Coastal Plain Oil & Gas Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. - 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) announced the signing and issuing of leases on nine of the tracts that received qualifying bids from the first lease sale for lands in the non-wilderness Coastal Plain (1002 Area) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Results of the January 6 lease sale are available on BLM’s website.

“The Alaska Delegation has been fighting for decades for the opportunity to pursue responsible resource development in the 1002 Area. This announcement – that leases have now been awarded – is significant and meaningful for Alaska’s future,” the Alaska Congressional Delegation said. “It is imperative that President-Elect Biden recognize this for what it is – a balanced program that will provide substantial economic benefits to Alaska over time, without harming the environment or worsening climate change – and for his administration to faithfully implement the law, rather than to ignore and subvert it. We thank Secretary Bernhardt, Director Padgett, and countless Alaskans for recognizing our state’s pivotal role in America’s energy sector, and for working tirelessly to help reach this milestone.”


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. Alaskan oil and gas production will continue to play a key role in maintaining American energy security.

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 new and safer technology has expanded the reach of underground drilling 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 responsible 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.

Additional Resources:

The delegation’s response to the January 6 lease sale is available here.

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