Alaska senators push bill to allow Arctic drilling

Alaska senators push bill to allow Arctic drilling
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Alaska’s two Republican senators have introduced a bill that would repeal Obama administration restrictions on off-shore drilling and allow for oil production in the Arctic Ocean. 

The bill, from Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Collins skeptical of new ObamaCare repeal effort How Senate relationships could decide ObamaCare repeal MORE and Dan Sullivan, would undo Obama’s December decision to withdraw sections of the Outer Continental Shelf from the U.S.’s offshore drilling program.

It would also require, as part of federal five-year drilling plans, a minimum of three drilling lease sales in each of the Beaufort, Chukchi and Cook Inlet planning areas off the northern coast of Alaska. 

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“After years of regulatory restrictions and burdens imposed by the Obama administration, this bill charts a much better course for responsible energy production in our Beaufort and Chukchi seas that actually reflects the views of the vast majority of Alaskans,” Murkowski, the chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. 

“These areas contain prolific resources that can be safely developed to create jobs, reduce our deficits, keep energy affordable and strengthen national security.”

Obama in December formally removed waters in the Chukchi Sea and most of its Beaufort Sea from the federal drilling program, one month after he finalized a five-year drilling plan that didn’t include Arctic lease sales. 

Environmentalists praised the decision has a major victory in their fight against Arctic drilling. But the fossil fuel industry and its congressional supporters vowed to fight the decision. 

The White House is crafting an executive action to kick off the process of rewriting that leasing plan, officials said this week. That process could take years to finalize.