The two US Senators from Alaska have introduced a bill that would undo the indefinite bans on offshore drilling in most of the US Arctic.
Those bans were applied in the latter stages of former President Barack Obama’s administration, which also ruled large areas of Atlantic coastal waters off limits to drilling.
Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Dan Sullivan, both Republicans, intend the Offshore Production and Energizing National Security Alaska Act (OPENS Alaska Act) to revoke the Obama provisions regarding their state, making the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) eligible again for oil and gas lease sales.
They envision a “better course for responsible energy production in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas” as Senator Murkowski said, noting the Alaskan waters contain prodigious energy resources which can be “safely developed” to create jobs and keep energy affordable.
Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
The OPENS Alaska Act would also require DOI to hold at least three lease sales of sites in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas and in the Cook Inlet during each five-year planning period.
The Senators brought their bill a few days after Bloomberg reported that Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke had told an industry conference to expect US President Donald Trump would soon issue an executive order reversing Obama’s restrictions on offshore drilling.