ANWR development would benefit Alaska in the long run

March 9, 2023 3:40 pm
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge sprawls to the shoreline of the Beaufort Sea, seen here in 2006. Oil development has been proposed for the refuge's coastal plain. (Photo by Steve Hillebrand,/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge sprawls to the shoreline of the Beaufort Sea, seen here in 2006. Oil development has been proposed for the refuge’s coastal plain. (Photo by Steve Hillebrand/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Any journalist, including Larry Persily, should focus on one simple tenet: All facts matter.  As a result, his recent piece hitting both the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge development should have Alaskans disappointed, because his commentary doesn’t include the necessary facts. Nor is it practical.  In no circumstance would his proposal be in Alaska’s (or America’s) best interest.

Persily’s plan would call for Alaska to beg the Biden administration for money, in order to take existing leases in ANWR’s 10-02 coastal plain out of production forever.  Let’s look at the problems surrounding that proposal: 

  • Congress twice has approved the 10-02 area as a source of American oil and gas; first in 1980 as part of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, and then again in 2017 as part of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act.  Congress understood the potential for domestic oil and gas opportunities under the coastal plain, and as the lawmaking body in our republic, are to speak for the people of America, and act in America’s best interest.
  • With the nation’s demand for oil holding steady at approximately 20 million barrels a day – in spite of the push from the eco-left to force a move away from hydrocarbons – and daily U.S. production hovering around 11.6 million barrels a day, there is a gap that ANWR can help fill.
  • There are estimates that the 10-02 holds somewhere between 4.3 and 11.8 billion barrels of oil.  Think about that number, because it is staggering.  The Willow project, which stands as America’s largest undeveloped reservoir, holds an approximate 600 million barrels.
  • The Biden administration’s forced stop on ANWR development – via executive order on day one of his presidency – didn’t cancel the leases that were legally made after the initial 10-02 sale in early 2021.  The order postponed actions being able to be taken on them, nothing more.  AIDEA’s purchase of the leases were legal and binding.  The $20 million spent to acquire them should one day pay off tremendously, in spite of Persily’s musings. 

Trading the thousands of potential jobs, tens of billions in royalties the 10-02 production could spin off to federal and state treasuries during its lifetime; losing the ability to ensure domestic supplies that can help balance our daily supply/demand deficit; and abandoning the legal, binding lease sale in exchange for an unnecessary claim that Alaska helped ‘save the planet’ only makes sense to those looking to force a transition away from hydrocarbons, those looking to further lock up Alaska or those who believe a “climate crisis” is occurring and that Alaska holds the key to solving the issue. 

ANWR’s coastal plain holds promise.  AIDEA holds leases.  Alaska holds opportunities abound, including in the 10-02.  Those are the facts Persily’s piece missed entirely. 

There’s no reason to walk away from Alaska’s prosperity to appease a small yet vocal minority of radical environmentalists.  That’s a fact. 

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Rick Whitbeck
Rick Whitbeck

Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska state director for Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs and opportunities.