Alaskan lawmakers react to BLM announcing record NPR-A lease sale

(Photo from the Bureau of Land Management)
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - On Wednesday, the Bureau of Land Management announced it will be selling oil and gas leases on Dec. 6, via video livestream bids. A record of 900 tracts will be offered up within part of the 22.8-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A).

This will be the 13th sale in the NPR-A, since 1999. Previously, the Obama Administration was against opening more of the NPR-A up for drilling.

Currently, the number of authorized leases in the NPR-A stands at 189, and BLM says this covers over 1,372,688 acres. BLM adds that the previous 12 sales generated over $280 million; furthermore, the State of Alaska reportedly received half of this amount.

Following the announcement, both of Alaska's senators expressed their support of the decision.

"I thank the administration for recognizing that Alaska has a leading role to play in America’s energy dominance and welcome its desire to increase access to the resources within our state’s 23-million acre National Petroleum Reserve," said Senator Lisa Murkowski, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources. "Responsible development in the NPR-A will strengthen our economy, begin to refill our Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, and generate new wealth to create prosperity and reduce our deficits. Those are substantial benefits—and this lease sale is a key step to gaining them."

And Senator Dan Sullivan welcomed the announcement by stating, "Exploration and development of the NPR-A offers a promising opportunity to fill TAPS, boost Alaska’s economy, and protect America’s energy security. After years of cutting of access to development, jobs and growth, the Department of Interior is now working with Alaska to put people back to work and ensure American energy dominance."

Governor Bill Walker also called the announcement "great news for Alaska," especially in regards to filling the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

"I applaud the U.S. Department of Interior’s announcement that December’s oil and gas lease sale in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) will be the largest in history," he said. "I thank Secretary Zinke and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for recognizing the need for increased access to NPR-A. I wholeheartedly agree with Secretary Zinke’s statement that responsible resource development in Alaska is key to America’s energy dominance."

Other authority figures who openly share their support of the deal include: U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Alaska Congressman Don Young, Karen Mouritsen, Acting State Director for BLM Alaska and North Slope Borough Mayor Harry K. Brower Jr.

For a detailed statement of the upcoming 2017 sale, visit this website.

According to BLM, sealed bids must be received by 4 p.m. on Dec. 4. Then, at 1 p.m. on Dec. 6, BLM will begin opening of the sealed bid submissions.