Committee Reviews Economic Ripple Effect of Greater Alaska Oil and Gas Development
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 18, 2017 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
Today, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing on onshore oil and gas development in Alaska. Panel members highlighted the many benefits for Alaska and the Lower 48 if the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) were opened for responsible exploration and development.
“Energy development in the State of Alaska is a key component of achieving American energy independence. Enabling new opportunities for exploration and development, especially in the NPR-A and in ANWR, will create thousands of good jobs [and] generate billions in revenue for the state of Alaska and the federal government,” Subcommittee Chairman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said.
Despite decreased production in Alaska and low oil prices, the industry continues to be the largest source of revenue to the state. For Alaska Natives like Richard Glenn, Executive Vice President for Lands and Natural Resources of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, related revenues “have provided for substantial gains in economic self-determination.”
“Exploration and development of ANWR will not take place unless Congress acts,” Glenn stated. “But while we're thinking about it, if you're going to look at the National Petroleum Reserve and consider multiple uses, for example, it’s not just a ‘gas tank’ but also hosts valuable habitat, then why don’t we consider the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the same light? That is, it’s not just a wildlife refuge that should remain off limits, but also can host important exploration of the native owned lands that exist there.”
“People of the slope support this development,” Chairman Emeritus Don Young (R-AK) stated. “We can have our subsistence and we can have an economy as the North Slope has done.”
Gary Dixon, Vice President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 959 Alaska, said “it’s not all about the jobs the industry provides on the North Slope, it’s also about the indirect jobs it creates to the Alaska economy and to other states in the lower 48.”
“It would lessen the burden of importing more oil for the U.S. It would help the Trans-Alaska Pipeline with its throughput problems,” Dixon added.
Vice President of External Affairs and Transportation at ConocoPhillips Alaska Scott Jepsen discussed how industry innovation has allowed them to “successfully produce oil and gas with minimal environmental impact” and, despite misleading characterizations, an ever-shrinking operational footprint.
“Many in Congress are under the misguided notion that onshore Arctic development somehow harms the fish, wildlife and waterfowl resources there,” Glenn said. “No matter how many images we provide of caribou, ducks, fish, and even polar bears unharmed and undisturbed in close proximity, sometimes even directly on, over, or under oilfield infrastructure.”
In order for Alaska’s onshore oil and gas production to flourish, steps must be taken to create more certainty in the permitting process and increase access to federal land.
“From a regulatory point of view, the state of Alaska has implemented relatively efficient processes. Our key permitting challenge has been working with the federal government, whose regulatory framework has been less well defined,” Jepsen stated.Click here to view full witness testimony.
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