An initial step toward opening up an Arctic wilderness area in Alaska to oil and gas development unveils a revenue stream for the state, the governor said.
A document published Friday in the Federal Register by the U.S. Interior Department outlined plans for a leasing environmental impact statement for an oil and gas leasing plan. The area under consideration includes 1.6 million acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, designated as the so-called 1002 Area.
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said opening ANWR up to drillers presented a historic opportunity for the state.
“This is an important priority for my administration given the potential for significant new revenues from lease sales and production,” he said in a statement late Thursday.
Alaska is struggling with budgetary issues amid declining oil and gas production. The four-week average for daily crude oil production from Alaska of around 500,000 barrels per day is down about 5 percent from this time last year. The four-week average of 9.9 million barrels per day from the Lower 48, meanwhile, is up 15 percent.