Controversial move disregards the views of those who call Alaska’s Arctic home
Arctic Slope Regional Corporation is strongly reacting to a plan from the Obama administration to permanently block the sale of new offshore drilling rights in Alaska’s Arctic as well as sections in the Atlantic, off the east coast. The plan calls for withdrawing additional acreage in the Arctic OCS planning areas using an ambiguous clause of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). The controversial announcement was made this afternoon from Washington D.C.
“We will fight this legacy move by the outgoing president with every resource at our disposal,” said Rex A. Rock Sr., ASRC president and CEO. “This decision will not stop our climate from changing, but it will inhibit our North Slope communities from developing the infrastructure, communications capability and technology necessary for growth. It’s a move which was made without any consultation from the largest private land owners in the U.S. Arctic and yet we will be the ones forced to live with the consequences.”
“It’s disappointing this administration would base much of its decisions regarding offshore oil and gas development on faulty assumptions,” added Crawford Patkotak, ASRC board chairman. “Today’s surprise announcement will have lasting negative effects across the U.S. Arctic without seeking input from those who call the region home.”
Reviews and procedures within OCSLA are strictly stated to ensure the protection of human, marine and coastal environments. Unfairly restricting oil and gas exploration, simply to suffice the climate change goals of the president and his supporters, endangers Alaskan jobs and the economic outlook of North Slope communities and the entire state of Alaska.
Today’s announcement follows Obama’s decision last month to cancel offshore lease sales through 2022 in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, blatantly ignoring feedback from Arctic residents and Alaska’s congressional delegation. Also in November, ASRC announced the purchase of federal offshore leases, formerly owned by Shell, in and near Camden Bay. Although the administration’s decision today does not directly affect these leases, it sets a precedent for future regulatory actions that could have a negative impact on responsible development in the Arctic.
A statewide poll, conducted in late October, shows Alaskans overwhelmingly support offshore oil and gas development in the state. More than two-thirds of Alaskans (76%) support offshore resource development and almost universally believe it has a big impact on their economy (88%).