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Murkowski Comments on Decision Restricting Access to Petroleum Reserve

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today issued the following comment regarding the Obama administration’s release of its final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the land management plan for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

“I continue to be concerned that the management plan chosen by the administration greatly restricts access to our nation’s oil and natural gas resources, especially in the eastern portion of the petroleum reserve.

“I recognize Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's effort in the memorandum to clarify that pipelines may be constructed across the petroleum reserve, I remain concerned, however, that the plan sets up roadblocks to an economically feasible project. It’s incumbent on the secretary to be clear in the record of decision that any future NEPA review of potential pipeline routes and infrastructure not prohibit construction of an economic project. As written, the absence of clear direction in the EIS jeopardizes future oil and gas production development in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

“It’s hard to have confidence in the plan given the discrepancies contained in the initial announcement. The administration’s announcement indicates that it makes 72 percent of the oil in the reserve open to development, including allowing for recovery of an estimated 8.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. What the announcement doesn’t say is that the plan locks up 83.5 percent of the likely natural gas in the reserve. That is totally unacceptable to the nation and to future economy of Alaska.”

Murkowski noted that just last year the Department of the Interior placed the mean estimate of natural gas available for recovery from the petroleum reserve at 52.8 trillion cubic feet.

Murkowski has held multiple meetings over the past two years with Secretary Salazar and other top administration officials on the petroleum reserve management plan. Murkowski most recently raised her concerns about the management plan with Secretary Salazar and Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes last night.

Murkowski’s position is that the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska’s legal purpose is to provide petroleum to the United States to ensure the nation’s energy security.

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