“No Action” Administration Targets NPR-A for Latest Restrictions on Alaska Resource Development
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, issued the following statements after the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) signaled that it plans to close millions of additional acres in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) to responsible resource development.
“With zero analysis or consultation with Alaskans, the Biden administration has decided to upend the NPR-A’s current management plan to return to an outdated policy that is worse for our state’s economy, worse for our nation’s energy security, and contrary to federal law,” Senator Murkowski said. “BLM claims a need for greater ‘balance’ in managing this area, but fails to realize that balance is what will be lost through this move. This is a petroleum reserve, specifically designated for energy development, located within a state that already has tens of millions of acres of parks, refuges, and federal wilderness. The current management plan was carefully crafted to protect the reserve’s most sensitive areas and includes numerous safeguards for responsible development. Sweeping restrictions like this – which are being imposed even as the Biden administration implores OPEC+ to produce more oil – demonstrate everything that is wrong with its energy policies.”
“There they go again. Yesterday it was 20 executive actions from the Biden administration targeting our state’s economic opportunities and future, today it’s 21. No state in the country has been singled out like Alaska with such a destructive war on our working families, which hits our Alaska Native communities particularly hard,” said Senator Sullivan. “Moving to revert back to the 2013 Obama administration version, which removes roughly fifty percent of the NPR-A from oil and gas development, will hurt Alaska’s economic future, our nation’s security, and likely violates federal law. Reverting back to the 2013 management plan is not only arbitrary and contrary to good science, it will be harmful to the very people and issues the Biden administration purports to care most about—indigenous communities, and racial and environmental equity. Instead, the Biden White House is taking its orders from radical extreme environmental groups who care nothing about Alaskans. I will continue to fight this war on Alaska’s workers and economy with everything I’ve got.”
“For years, the NPR-A has been crucial to providing affordable energy to families across our country. This move by the Biden Administration is not only insulting to the hardworking men and women on the North Slope, but also extremely foolish. Gas prices around the nation are soaring; why then would President Biden and the BLM want to kneecap our domestic production, thereby emboldening our oil-producing adversaries overseas? This decision is yet another insult among a series of anti-Alaska actions taken by this Administration. By reverting to the 2013 IAP, BLM is attempting to shut down almost 50% of the NPR-A – that's over 11 million acres. To put this in perspective, the President’s home state of Delaware could fit in this part of the NPR-A about seven times over. No state should be subject to such a heavy-handed decision, and certainly not Alaska. Our state has proven that conservation and energy development can go hand in hand. Despite this, the Administration continues working to stifle American energy production and economic opportunity in Alaska,” said Congressman Young. “This reversion, championed by bureaucrats thousands of miles away from the NPR-A, is dead wrong. I condemn it and call on President Biden to end his Administration's attacks on Alaska's economy and way of life.”
The Biden administration announced yesterday that it plans to use Alternative A – the “No Action Alternative” from the NPR-A’s 2020 Integrated Activity Plan (IAP) as its preferred alternative to manage the reserve. This would close approximately half of the surface acreage of the reserve, which is roughly the size of Indiana, to energy leasing.
The Alaska delegation strongly supported the previous administration’s decision to re-evaluate and revise the NPR-A’s IAP. That process, which concluded in early 2021, resulted in a management plan that BLM itself described as including “important safeguards for wildlife and sensitive resources, while allowing for responsible oil and gas leasing across 18.6 million acres of the NPR-A. These safeguards include no surface occupancy, controlled surface use, timing limitations and provide for new and emerging technologies to access subsurface resources while maintaining important surface values.” The preferred alternative selected under the early 2021 IAP kept more than four million acres of the NPR-A closed to leasing and represented a suitable balance for managing the reserve.
BLM administers the NPR-A under the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act and other federal laws. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the 23 million-acre region on the western North Slope—roughly the size of the state of Indiana—contains 8.7 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically-recoverable oil.
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