Effort to open ANWR clears one more hurdle

November 29, 2017

Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s legislation to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration cleared another hurdle as expected Nov. 28, but one more big jump remains.

The ANWR provisions passed the Senate Budget Committee as part of the Republicans’ tax overhaul on a 12-11 party-line vote. The next and final stop for the controversial legislation is the Senate floor, where debate is sure to be lengthy and contentious.

The House passed its tax and budget plan Nov. 16.

With a 52-48 majority in the Senate, Republicans inserted opening the ANWR coastal plain into budget measures that only require a simple majority vote and not the filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority needed for standalone bills.

Lease revenue from the two lease sales prescribed in Murkowski’s legislation is expected to generate $1.1 billion, which would go towards offsetting a small part of the $1.4 trillion of tax cuts over 10 years in the Republican tax reform plan.

Murkowski chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which the Budget Committee earlier this year tasked with finding $1 billion in new revenues over 10 years to support the budget-tax plan. The directive was a nod to Murkowski to introduce the ANWR option.

Specifically, Murkowski’s plan would direct the Bureau of Land Management to hold at least two oil and gas lease sales for 400,000 acres or more of the 1.5 million-acre ANWR coastal plain— the first within four years and the second no later than seven years after the legislation passes. It sets federal resource royalties at 16.67 percent and would evenly split royalty revenue with the State of Alaska.

Finally, as has been the case with all the recent versions of ANWR legislation the delegation has introduced, it would limit permanent development to 2,000 acres in total.

Because the ANWR action is being used as a revenue offset to the tax cuts it...

Read entire article at Alaska Journal of Commerce.


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