State supports exploration, development in ANWR

Walker: ‘The trans-Alaska pipeline is three-quarters empty, and the state is suffering the largest fiscal crisis in our history’

Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott are urging Congress to support oil and gas exploration and development in non-wilderness areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“Alaska’s economic future should not be a partisan issue,” Walker told the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, chaired by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on Nov. 2.

“Nine in 10 of Alaska’s legislators – on both sides of the aisle – support oil and gas exploration and development of the 1002,” he said, referring to the 1002 section of the non-wilderness area of ANWR, which makes up 8 percent of the 19-million-acre wildlife reserve.

“The trans-Alaska pipeline is three-quarters empty, and the state is suffering the largest fiscal crisis in our history.”

The governor said he can’t understand having a potentially huge resource sit undeveloped and space in the pipeline unutilized while the state is challenged to fund core services like education, health care and public safety, with potentially more cuts on the horizon.

He cited Alaska Department of Natural Resources estimates that oil production from federal lands in the 1002 area would generate $175 billion in royalty and tax reserves for Alaska over the potential 40-plus year life of the basin.


Walker concluded his testimony before the committee on Nov. 2 by saying that Alaska is uniquely founded on resource use and development and that the 1002 area was a critical piece of the compromises that formed the state.  He said he was confident that opening the 1002 area would promote decades of additional economic activity in Alaska.

“We live in a petroleum era,” Mallott said. “This is reality. Alaska is also ground zero for climate change. The development of non-renewable resources and the development of response to combatting the effects of climate change are not mutually exclusive in our state.”

Mallott said that since the 1002 areas is less than 60 miles from the Trans Alaska Pipeline System and in close proximity to the newly developed infrastructure at Point Thomson that is safely operating, that 1002 areas development in the quickest, most environmentally sound way to increase oil production in Alaska on the scale necessary to ensure that TAPS will continue to operate in the future.

Mallott also spoke about the state’s fiscal crisis, budget cuts and the Walker administration’s pursuit of a broad-based tax and changes to the Alaska Permanent Fund to fund essential services, saying Alaska needs to fully utilize its resources across the North Slope. The state and national economic needs for this development are clear, he said.