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Alaska ‘Steps Up’ to Assess ANWR Energy Resource
Ten days after President Obama signed the “National Strategy for the Arctic Region,” the state of Alaska announced a plan to assess oil and natural gas resources in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) 1002 Area.
Gov. Sean Parnell and Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan said Monday that planning for the region cannot be done constructively unless the energy resource in ANWR is known. The state’s plan would unfold over seven years and would include seismic surveys, environmental studies and exploration drilling on the ANWR coastal plain.
“Accurately defining the oil and gas resource potential is a critical part of understanding the value of the 1002 Area to the nation,” Parnell said. “The federal government has the responsibility to do this under federal law but is clearly reluctant to do so. Therefore, we are stepping forward with our expertise and financing to provide a detailed resource evaluation and exploration proposal.”
The proposal, called the “Oil & Gas Resource Evaluation & Exploration Proposal for the ANWR 1002 Area,” was produced by the Alaska Division of Oil & Gas, and it is being shared with Alaska stakeholders, the U.S. Department of the Interior and members of Congress this week.
Parnell outlined the proposal in a letter sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. He said he would seek up to $50 million from state lawmakers to fund the program. Such a budget request will be contingent on the federal government indicating its interest in partnering with Alaska on the seismic program, Parnell said. “We hope that the Department of the Interior and Congress will partner with the state in adopting and implementing this exploration proposal,” he said.
On May 10 the president signed the Arctic region strategy, joining Canada, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Russia and Sweden “in articulating our strategic priorities for this critical region of the world,” the administration said at the time. The administration plans to host roundtable discussions during June in Alaska to discuss how to proceed with the strategy plan.
Parnell said Monday that his administration understands that the U.S. Department of Interior does not intend to assess oil and gas issues in ANWR planning. He said for that reason, the state of Alaska will “step up” and assess the resource itself.
“This assessment will provide Congress and the federal government a much clearer understanding of the best way to manage this small portion of ANWR for the benefit of all Americans,” Parnell’s office said.
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