Interior to hold lease sale this year in Alaska petroleum reserve

Hastings is floating draft legislation aimed at expanding oil and gas production in the NPR-A, which is located on Alaska's North Slope. The bill would also sets timelines for the permit approvals for roads and pipelines Hastings says are necessary to ensure adequate access to the reserve.

Here’s more on Hastings’ bill, which was the focus of a House Natural Resources Committee hearing Thursday.

The Department said Thursday it would hold an NPR-A lease sale this year. Interior’s Bureau of Land Management will give stakeholders 30 days to comment on available land in the NPR-A, the department said.

President Obama first outlined the annual lease sale proposal as part of a broad drilling plan he unveiled last month.

Interior offered lease sales in the northeast portion of the NPR-A in 1999, 2002 and 2010 and in the northwest portion of the reserve in 2004 and 2006, according to the department.

The department also said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will issue an executive order Thursday outlining procedures for operators affected by a now-lifted deepwater Gulf of Mexico drilling moratorium put in place in the aftermath of last year’s oil spill to extend their leases by one year.

The proposal was also outlined by Obama last month as part of his drilling plan.