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President Signs Secure Rural Schools Extension, Legacy Well Cleanup Funding


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today welcomed President Obama's signing of the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act. The new law, which was co-authored by Murkowski, includes $50 million for the cleanup of abandoned oil and gas wells drilled by the federal government and a one-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools program. 

Murkowski negotiated the final deal to close the federal helium reserve with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Rep. Doc Hastings, (R-Wash.), the chairmen of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee, respectively. Murkowski is the top Republican on the Senate energy panel. 

Closure of the reserve is expected to generate about $500 million in revenue over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

"At a time when the news is dominated by dysfunction in Washington, the signing of this bill is a big victory,” Murkowski said. “Not only does it provide a badly needed lifeline to Southeast communities that depend on Secure Rural Schools funding for their schools, it also provides $50 million to cleanup the legacy wells in the National Petroleum Reserve." 

As a result of Murkowski’s work, the new law, which reforms the federal helium reserve to protect U.S. Taxpayers and ensure there's no supply disruption, dedicates $90 million to reduce the federal debt. The law also includes the following funding for Alaska priorities:

  • Provides $50 million to remediate, reclaim, and close abandoned oil and gas wells on current or former National Petroleum Reserve land. 
  • Extends for one year the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Program, which provides $16 million for roads and schools for Southeast communities.
  • Provides $50 million for fiscal year 2018 to pay the federal share of challenge cost-share agreements for deferred maintenance projects and to correct deficiencies in National Park Service infrastructure nationwide.


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