The US Department of the Interior’s new National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska land-management proposal represents the largest federal land withdrawal in decades, the state’s congressional delegation said in an Aug. 22 letter to US Interior Sec. Ken Salazar.
US Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R) and Mark Begich (D) and Rep. Don Young (R) said it would place half of the 23.5 million-acre petroleum reserve under special protection, blocking access to vast oil and gas resources and make it hard to connect future offshore production to existing Prudhoe Bay systems.
When he announced the plan on Aug. 13, Salazar said it balanced meeting US energy needs with preserving wildlife and Alaska Native subsistence culture. The proposal also would not preclude construction of a pipeline from offshore oil fields across NPR-A if necessary requirements are met, he added.
Murkowski, who is the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s ranking minority member; Begich; and Young disagreed. “The production of oil and natural gas from offshore areas in the Arctic and onshore within the boundaries of the NPR-A offers untouched and promising sources of domestic energy and will also create tens of thousands of new jobs nationwide and new revenues for Alaska and the federal treasury,” they told Salazar.
“Unfortunately, we believe the preferred alternative selected by [Interior] will significantly limit options for a pipeline through the NPR-A and will unnecessarily restrict access to rich oil and natural gas resources within the petroleum reserve,” the federal lawmakers said.
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