Monday, January 22, 2018

ANWR update

Back in 2002, annoyed at shoddy reporting on the oil potential in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, (more specifically the "1002 Area"), I did some research followed by a brief write-up. In March 2008 I reprinted my write up along with a brief update; followed by a further update a few weeks later (note: scroll down to the second story). 

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): An Overview was just published this month by the Congressional Research Service (CRS 26-page PDF). 

“In the ongoing energy debate in Congress, one recurring issue has been whether to allow oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR, or the Refuge) in northeastern Alaska.  ANWR is rich in fauna and flora and also has significant oil and natural gas potential. Energy development in the Refuge has been debated for more than 50 years. On December 20, 2017, President Trump signed into law P.L. 115-97, which provides for an oil and gas program on ANWR’s Coastal Plain. The Congressional Budget Office estimated federal revenue from the program’s first two lease sales at $1.1 billion, but actual revenues may be higher or lower depending on market conditions and other factors. This report discusses the oil and gas program in the context of the Refuge’s history, its energy and biological resources, Native interests and subsistence uses, energy market conditions, and debates over protection and development…”

This clearly is more comprehensive than my write-up, which only discussed the amount of oil and not the ecological, social, and other aspects of the issue. The report's conclusion?  

"Enactment of P.L. 115-97 in December 2017 culminated a decades-long debate over whether to allow oil and gas development in ANWR in northeastern Alaska. The law established an oil and gas program for the Refuge’s Coastal Plain, with at least two oil and gas lease sales required in the next 10 years. Development proponents contend that the sales will generate economic activity, contribute to U.S. energy security, and result in royalty revenues for both the federal government and the State of Alaska, while opponents express concern that development will detrimentally impact the unique biological resources of the Refuge. 

P.L. 115-97 requires the first ANWR lease sale within four years of the law’s enactment. Activities preparatory to the lease sale include identifying lands to be leased, conducting sale-specific environmental reviews, issuing notices of sales, and other “prelease” activities. Activities could also include new geological and geophysical (G&G) surveys to determine the extent and location of hydrocarbon resources. 

Congress could potentially take additional action related to ANWR oil and gas leasing , including through further legislation or through oversight of DOI’s implementation of the provisions of P.L. 115-97.  A number of development issues addressed in earlier ANWR bills were not addressed in P.L. 115-97, possibly owing in part to limitations imposed by the budget reconciliation process. Congress could choose to address some of these issues in future legislation amending the oil and gas program or could decide that the provisions of P.L. 115-97 already provide sufficient guidance for the program. Alternatively, Congress could decide to end the program, for example by designating the Refuge’s Coastal Plain as wilderness, as is proposed in some 115th Congress bills. 

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the state and federal revenue from the first two lease sales in ANWR at approximately $2.2 billion over 10 years. Actual bids will depend on many factors, including market conditions at the time of the lease sales. Development and transportation of oil in the Refuge, as elsewhere in the Arctic, is a difficult and expensive prospect, and a key factor in industry bids will be the price of oil."

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