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Legislation seeks to open ANWR, rein in monument designations

January 13th | Shady Grove Oliver, The Arctic Sounder Print this article   Email this article  

Gov. Bill Walker last week voiced his support for a pair of bills put forward by the members of the Republican Congressional delegation.

The first, called the Improved National Monument Designation Process Act, was introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Jan. 5.

The bill calls for greater state and local input in the process of designating a national monument on federal land. It would also require authorization from Congress, approval from state legislators, and compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act to be completed before a national monument could be established.

"Alaskans should have a say when our federal lands are being locked up as a national monument. I appreciate the hard work Sen. Murkowski and her colleagues have done on this issue, and I hope this legislation is seen with an open mind by Congress and the incoming administration," said Gov. Walker in a statement.

Under current law, a president may establish a national monument using the Antiquities Act. State representatives have historically opposed the creation of national monuments on federal lands or waters that could impact Alaska.

The same day, the governor expressed his support for legislation introduced by both Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan which proposed opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for limited oil and gas development.

The bill, titled the Alaska Oil and Gas Production Act, would "allow for the development of no more than 2,000 surface acres in the 1002 Area of ANWR," according to a release.

"The state will do everything it can to provide the infrastructure needed to responsibly access the 1002 section of ANWR," Walker noted in a release. "Alaska has developed the seismic technology needed to focus on the most resource-rich portion of the area, allowing us to limit the footprint of activity in the region. With an oil pipeline that is three-quarters empty and an over $3 billion budget deficit, drilling in the 1002 would fill TAPS and bring much needed revenue to our state coffers."

According to the release, ANWR is the largest onshore oil prospect in the country with about 10.4 billion barrels of oil estimated within.

"Alaska has an outstanding history of safe development and working with stakeholders," said Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack in the release. "We are committed to working closely with the North Slope Borough, Kaktovik, and Arctic Slope Regional Corp. to maintain the highest global standards while benefitting Alaska's economy."


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