By Ramsey Cox
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced two bills Thursday that would increase the production of oil and gas on federal land in her home state.
S. 2408 and S. 2409 would open up nearly 2,000 acres of the Arctic coastal plain for exploration, leasing, development and production of oil and gas.
Murkowski said the area, which is a non-wilderness portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, could yield 10.4 billion barrels of oil and 8.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas — more than 40 years worth of jobs for her state.
She said oil production in her state has declined in recent years because the federal government owns 70 percent of Alaska’s land and is refusing to increase oil production on those lands.
“Production on the North Slope continues to decline by about 6 percent annually,” Murkowski said. “With new exploration and development projects on federal lands blocked or delayed at every turn, Alaska faces a tipping point.”
Murkowski, who is ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said her bill would give the federal government 50 percent of the revenue from the oil and gas rather than the 10 percent rate under current law.
“At approximately $100 per barrel, and given the Coastal Plain's estimate of over 10 billion barrels, there is a trillion dollars' worth of oil locked up beneath this small area in northern Alaska,” Murkowski said. “My bills offer us a chance to produce more of our own energy, for the good of the American people, in an environmentally-friendly way.”
Environmentalists argue that drilling in Alaska is too risky and would harm fish and wildlife in the region.