Administration takes fresh look at Alaska’s energy potential

by WorldTribune Staff, November 20, 2018

The Trump administration said it is re-evaluating Obama-era land management policy that kept millions of acres in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska off limits to drilling.

The Interior Department announced it is looking at areas of the 22.1-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) that can be opened for oil and gas exploration.

“We think it’s time to re-evaluate some of the areas that were previously left unavailable for leasing, as well as open up avenues for infrastructure to be installed – both pipelines and, potentially, roads,” Joe Balash, the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management, told reporters.

The NPR-A was set aside by Congress decades ago for oil and gas production for the U.S. Navy. However, what is the largest block of land owned by the U.S. government, has since become a point of conflict between environmentalists and Alaskans.

In 2013, the Obama administration sided with environmentalists, declaring 11.8 million acres of NPR-A off-limits to drilling.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in 2017 moved to “jump start” the declining oil and gas industry in Alaska by ordering officials to re-write the NPR-A management plan.

The Trump administration is also moving forward with opening the coastal “1002” area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Drilling is supported by the tribe that lives on the coastal plain, but opposed by those living in ANWR’s interior where there will be no drilling, according to a report by The Daily Caller.

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