In Alaska, Support for OCS Energy Resources

By April 15, 2009Economy, Energy

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar continued the Department’s series of four meetings on developing Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas resources with a daylong session in Anchorage on Tuesday. From AP:

[Governor] Palin warned against the country’s dependence on foreign oil coming from “dangerous regimes” that she said don’t like Americans. With production falling on the North Slope, the amount of oil carried in the trans-Alaska pipeline could fall below carrying capacity in the next decade, the governor said.

“Alaska has decades of safely developing our oil and gas,” Palin said. “There are solutions here in Alaska to America’s energy challenges.”

Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, sent Salazar a similar message: Alaska knows how to drill for oil and gas in an environmentally responsible way. [See – Bipartisan support!]

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said Alaska will be left out if it doesn’t act now, especially with China and Russia already staking claims to the North Pole.

“My interest in this is jobs,” Young said.

Gov. Palin (news release) correctly brings energy security back into the focus. How exactly is the United States supposed to free itself from dependence on foreign energy suppliers if the country abandons domestic oil and gas production?

Consider Alaska’s potential alone: The Minerals Management Service estimates that Alaska’s OCS contains 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (or a total of 53 billion barrels of oil equivalent). In comparison, total production from the North Slope since 1977 has been 15.5 billion barrels.

The hearings (the last one is tomorrow in San Francisco) help form the public record for the MMS. In January, MMS released its 2010-2015 five-year leasing plan, including proposals to open new offshore areas to oil and natural gas development. Coming into the Department, Secretary Salazar delayed the plan’s implementation (public comments were heavily in favor of energy development), directed Interior scientists to produce more reports on oil and gas potential off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and extended the public comment period to September.

In case you couldn’t make it to Anchorage, the American Petroleum Institute has created a website to allow the public to comment on the proposed five-year leasing program. Go here. Lots of good resources and facts.

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