Feds approve oil drilling in Alaska reserve

Feds approve oil drilling in Alaska reserve
© Tom Anderson

Federal officials have approved the first permit to drill for oil and natural gas in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.

The Greater Moose’s Tooth Unit 1 project by ConocoPhillips Co. will be the first time in the reserve’s 40-year history that it has had drilling, according to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages the area.

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“Today the BLM achieved an important milestone for realizing the promise of the NPR-A Integrated Activity Plan,” BLM Director Neil Kornze said in a statement. “I’m proud of this collaborative effort to ensure thoughtful, balanced, and responsible development in the NPR-A that will provide additional economic security for Alaskans as well as a new source of oil for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.”

The reserve is the largest tract of federal land, about the size of Indiana. It was set aside mainly for drilling, while the other major federal holding in northern Alaska, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, has been closed off to drilling.

The news of ConocoPhillips’s permit was praised by Alaska officials, but they also want the Obama administration to do more to allow oil drilling.

“Approval to drill the GMT-1 project is good news for Alaska and our native Corporations who will benefit from the 7(i) revenues from this project,” Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Collins: President elected Nov. 3 should fill Supreme Court vacancy Barrett seen as a front-runner for Trump Supreme Court pick MORE (R-Alaska), chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement.

“But this announcement marks yet another example of the tortured path Alaskans have been forced to navigate to develop on federal lands in our state,” she said.