House Panel Reviews Onshore Oil and Gas Opportunities in Alaska
Alaska witnesses testify before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources (click here to watch full committee hearing)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources convened an oversight hearing titled "Promoting Onshore Oil and Gas Development in Alaska" to evaluate new opportunities for development in Alaska, particularly in areas of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
“This hearing and the many conversations ahead are important steps for Alaska’s future,” Chairman Emeritus Don Young said following yesterday’s hearing. “As we work to refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and unleash Alaska’s energy potential, we must look for new opportunities to stabilize the regulatory environment, strengthen opportunities on the North Slope, and begin the process for unleashing the energy rich deposits within ANWR’s 1002. Today’s hearing, which included representatives from industry, regional corporations and labor, shows that Alaskans are united in our support for the responsible growth of our energy sector and economy. We understand that developing our state’s God-given natural resources can be done safely and to great benefit of our people and nation.”
The hearing, which featured a panel of four Alaskan witnesses, highlighted numerous benefits new exploration and developments upon federal lands in Alaska would provide local communities and the nation as whole. A number of highlights are included below:
Richard Glenn, Executive Vice President for Lands and Natural Resources of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (click here to watch):
- “For many, the Arctic environment is a distant and forbidding place, but for us it’s our home. The presence of the oil and gas industry is the economic base for what have become improvements to our cities, towns and villages. Our people, therefore, as the Ranking Member said, depend upon a healthy environment to support our subsistence needs, but we also depend on a healthy energy industry to provide the tax base that fuels the North Slope borough government – our local country government – to create these important quality of life improvements to our communities.
- “Many in Congress are under the misguided notion that onshore development somehow harms the fish, wildlife and water resources there. 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.”
- “Exploration and development of ANWR will not take place unless Congress acts, 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.”
Gary Dixon, Vice President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 959 Alaska (click here to watch):
- “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.”
- “Alaska’s oil and gas prospects in ANWR Section 1002 and NPR-A hold a big role in American energy for the future. It would lessen the burden of importing more oil for the U.S. It would help the Trans Alaska Pipeline with its throughput problems. It would create jobs in the future, so that the next generation of workers could earn a good living for them and their families.”
Scott Jepsen, Vice President of External Affairs and Transportation at ConocoPhillips Alaska (click here to watch):
- “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.”
- “As we have moved from the exploration phase to the production phase in NPR–A, we have found the permitting process can often be longer than expected, more difficult, costlier and uncertain. We’d like to see the federal government and the BLM in particular improve their process to eliminate elements that do not add value.”
- “We are encouraged by recent changes in the federal government’s philosophy surrounding the management of federal lands, especially in Alaska, and believe that these changes will help meet the energy goals of the U.S. and provide economic benefits to Alaskans and the country as a whole.”
Congressman Don Young, Chairman Emeritus of the House Natural Resources Committee (click here to watch):
- “There’s no law about that. That was done by the BLM? Mr. Chairman, when I bring this up, that was extortion – the idea that the agency itself said that they had to pay a fee to get their permits."
- “I’ve been up there a lot. I’ve seen more caribou than I’ve ever seen. That’s been a myth the whole time.”
- “We give them 92,000 acres of land and they’re precluded from drilling on it if they wish to do so. I think it’s time to start listening to people who live there and work there. If they think it doesn’t hurt the subsistence, then that’s who we should listen to – not somebody out of San Francisco or somebody from one of these organizations that spends their whole career to stop all types of development that helps individuals live in that area. It’s wrong."
- “We can have our subsistence and we can have an economy as the North Slope has done to educate their kids; provide them a better way of living because that’s what they way."
Click here for more information on the oversight hearing entitled “Promoting Onshore Oil and Gas Development in Alaska.”
Click here to view full witness testimony.