Murkowski, Sullivan Slam Interior for Cancelling Cook Inlet Lease Sale

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska, issued the following statements after the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced it will “not move forward” with a planned oil and gas lease sale in Cook Inlet, Alaska. The Biden administration claimed—falsely—that industry had no interest in leasing in the basin.

At a time when Alaskans and every other American are facing historic inflation and skyrocketing energy costs, the Biden administration has once again put more of our nation’s energy reserves off-limits, compounding those challenges and adding to the likelihood that Southcentral Alaska will have to import LNG to meet its future natural gas demands. This decision also comes just weeks after President Biden promised to “work like the devil” to reduce domestic energy prices, and again directly contradicts that empty pledge. 

“Citing a ‘lack of industry interest’ is nothing more than fantasy from an administration that shuns U.S. energy production. Cook Inlet is the sole source of the natural gas that more than 400,000 people in Southcentral Alaska—and significant military bases that are critical to our national security—depend on,” Senator Murkowski said. “I can say with full certainty, based on conversations as recently as last night, that Alaska’s industry does have interest in lease sales in Cook Inlet. To claim otherwise is simply false, not to mention stunningly short-sighted. The Biden administration needs to recognize how this decision is going to hurt Alaskans, reverse it immediately, and get the federal oil and gas program back on track now.”

“Just two days ago—President Biden claimed again that he is doing ‘everything in his power’ to bring down historically-high energy prices. The administration’s announcement that it will cancel these lease sales is just more proof that he is not,” said Senator Sullivan.  

“The nature by which this announcement came to news—from the White House's ultra-left Climate Czar Gina McCarthy, just down the hall from the President—not the Department of Interior—raises further questions over who is crafting these disastrous energy policies.

“The administration claims there was ‘no interest’ among producers. As the former Natural Resources Commissioner for Alaska, I know there is no way they could have confirmed ‘no interest’ until they held the lease sale. Indeed, a letter from the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, representing 14 oil and gas producers, regarding the Cook Inlet lease sale suggests otherwise. Joe Biden, Gina McCarthy, and the ultra-left members of this administration are blatantly lying to the American people. 

“The truth is, the President and his team—from day one—have waged an unrelenting war on American energy, restricting production on federal lands, killing pipelines and infrastructure, strong-arming the financial sector to blackball American energy, and appointing radical anti-energy officials to our nation’s highest financial posts. This latest announcement is merely a continuation of these policies, which are intentional. 

“If it weren’t evident before, today's announcement should make it crystal clear: Joe Biden and his administration are beholden to the radical left. The timing and nature of this decision display a disturbing disregard for the pain American families continue to feel at the pump, for the hard-working Americans whose livelihoods and communities depend on the American energy industry, and for the grave consequences these policies have on America's energy and national security. As Gina McCarthy celebrates this decision from the White House, rest assured Vladimir Putin is popping corks in the Kremlin.” 

“The Cook Inlet basin has safely produced critical oil and gas resources, especially for Alaskan consumers for over 60 years and AOGA publicly supported the lease sale. At a time when Alaskans and the American public desire energy independence, today’s announcement sends a clear message of just the opposite. Alaska has great potential. Today’s decision to cancel the lease sale is disappointing at best,” said Kara Moriarty, president and CEO of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association.

While the Biden administration has claimed a “lack of industry interest” in the Cook Inlet sale, it is basing that decision, in large part, on a Final Scoping Report conducted at the height of the pandemic in December of 2020. For one, in the best of times, there would be no way to judge interest based on a Scoping Report—only holding a lease sale would do that. Secondly, in December 2020, oil was averaging just $40.60 per barrel and natural gas prices were averaging just $1.92 per million Btu, both far below today’s levels. The Resource Development Council for Alaska, the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, and the State of Alaska all subsequently filed comments in support of the lease sale, which the administration summarily ignored.

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