Democrats: After Alaska Lease Sale Fails to Raise Significant Revenue, GOP Must Face Reality on Arctic Refuge Drilling Plan

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and two other high-ranking Democratic members of the House Natural Resources Committee sent a letter today to Keith Hall, director of the Congressional Budget Office, requesting a reassessment of how much revenue a Republican effort to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling could realistically generate. The letter is available at http://bit.ly/2k9iCh9.

The move comes as President Trump and Republicans in Congress push Arctic Refuge oil drilling as a potential billion-dollar revenue raiser – a figure that is totally unsupportable in light of the recently completed lease sale of more than 10 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), which raised just $1.2 million, or 12 cents per acre. The letter – co-signed by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans, and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources – points out that at that rate, leasing the entire proposed 1.5 million acres in the Arctic Refuge would raise just $360,000 over two sales, well below the CBO estimate of $2.2 billion.

On top of the dramatic bust in the NPR-A, the letter highlights the price of oil and the Arctic Refuge’s lack of existing infrastructure as additional reasons to question the $2.2 billion estimate. The Democrats ask Hall and his staff to prepare a new analysis so that tax reform and budgetary decisions are not based on unrealistic projections.

“As the [Arctic Refuge] provisions are currently under consideration as part of the conference for H.R. 1” – the pending Republican corporate tax cut bill – “we respectfully request that CBO immediately reassess the revenue projections for oil and gas leasing in ANWR based on information gained from yesterday’s lease sale,” the authors write. “The future of ANWR is far too important for Congress to make decisions based on anything less than the most up-to-date information.”

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