Mixed outlook on effects of 2018 oil production in Alaska

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - President Trump is telling Americans he wants to drill. The administration announced Thursday that U.S. waters will be open for business, rolling back bans on off-shore drilling imposed by the Obama administration. Supporters of the move see this as an opportunity to bolster America's already vast oil reserves. Others say the impact could hurt subsistence lifestyles. An Alaska wilderness advocate says the move puts his state in jeopardy.

Adam Kolton says there needs to be a balance when it comes to tapping into Alaska's natural resources.

"There are significant risks, from spills to subsistence values to fish and wildlife resources that need to be looked at," said Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League.

He says companies will have a chance to bid on these areas, which could lead to the destruction of Alaska's lands. Kolton says the revenue predictions for drilling off the coast and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are overblown.

"In many ways this is a distraction from the real challenges that Alaska faces to diversify its economy and think about its long-term economic future," said Kolton.

Supporters of the increased exploration say 2018 will be a historic year for production. They say a rise in production in Alaska would bring economic advantages.

"We want to make sure that more of that energy is produced domestically so that we're providing jobs and our national security," said Craig Stevens, spokesperson for Grow America's Infrastructure Now (GAIN).

Stevens says big oil companies know how to drill safely and responsibly, so why not continue tapping into American lands? He says the U.S. could produce 10 million barrels a day this year, putting American reserves in a good position for the future.

"The more we're able to produce our own energy here in the United States, the less we're relying on foreign sources of our energy," said Stevens.

There is no known timeline for when the off-shore lands will be up for lease.