One Step Closer: Interior Issues Call for Nominations for First Lease Sale in Alaska’s Coastal Plain

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Rep. Don Young, all R-Alaska, today issued the following statements after the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced it will issue a Call for Nominations for tracts to be offered in the first lease sale in the non-wilderness Coastal Plain (1002 Area) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The Call for Nominations follows the administration’s Record of Decision in August and will include 32 tracts covering 1.6 million acres.   

“This is a key step that puts us on track to have a lease sale in the 1002 Area as soon as January 2021,” Murkowski said. “While we face headwinds, from global economic conditions to an organized effort to prevent leasing, the Department’s rigorous environmental review has provided a solid framework to ensure responsible exploration and development. We are now within sight of the first-ever lease sale on the Coastal Plain, and I appreciate the continued good work of Secretary Bernhardt and his team to help us reach this point.”

“A lease sale in ANWR’s Coastal Plain will be a major step in cementing the historic progress we’ve made for Alaska’s economic future over the past four years,” Sullivan said. “This development could mean thousands of jobs for hard-working Alaskans and hundreds of thousands of barrels in daily pipeline throughput. I applaud Secretary Bernhardt and the Interior Department team for faithfully implementing the law we passed in 2017 and moving us one step closer to responsibly developing the 1002 Area for the benefit of Alaskans and the entire country." 

“Alaskans have always been strong environmental stewards who know how to develop our resources responsibly. Securing the longtime promise of development on ANWR's Coastal Plain was a tremendous victory for Alaska, and this call for nominations is a critical step toward a lease sale. Make no mistake: the voices that want to lock away Alaska from development are only growing louder and less Alaskan. There is light at the end of the tunnel in our fight, and the time is now to finally achieve what was promised by ANILCA four decades ago. As we approach the day where the first drilling rigs arrive and crude starts flowing, I will continue working to ensure that Alaska is front and center as we blaze the trail toward continued American energy dominance,” Young said. 

BLM’s Call for Nominations will officially appear in the Federal Register tomorrow. It will be open for 30 days, until December 17, 2020. During that time, members of the public can nominate tracts within the program area for potential inclusion in the upcoming lease sale. The lease sale itself will require 30 additional days of notice before it can be held. 

President Trump signed H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, in December 2017. The second title of the Act 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. New production from the 1002 Area will refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System while creating high-paying jobs, generating revenues for the state and federal treasuries, keeping energy prices affordable for families and businesses, and strengthening national 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 the reach of underground drilling has grown 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 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.

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