Testimony before the BLM • Anchorage, Alaska • February 11, 2019

Support for oil and gas leasing in the ANWR Coastal Plain

Good afternoon, my name is Marleanna Hall, I am the executive director for the Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc. RDC is an Alaskan trade association with members in fishing, forestry, mining, oil and gas, and tourism, as well as the 12 land owning regional Native corporations, labor, individuals, and others supporting the responsible development of Alaska’s natural resources.

I’m here today to express strong support for the proposed oil and gas lease program that would allow limited activity within the non-Wilderness portion of the coastal plain of ANWR.

It is important that the BLM’s EIS evaluate the alternatives that allow for development. Any alternatives that do not allow for the eventual development, production, and transportation of oil and gas in and from the Coastal Plain would not meet the requirements established by Congress and, therefore, would not meet the purpose and need of the EIS.

Alaskans statewide strongly support oil and gas exploration and development in the coastal plain. In fact, polling has consistently shown more than 70 percent of Alaskans support development of energy resources beneath the 1002 area. Local residents and the Inupiat people who actually live adjacent to the 1002 area also support development.

Responsible oil and gas development in the small fraction of the coastal plain proposed for leasing will help ensure America’s energy security for decades and allow Alaska – and our nation as a whole – to realize the benefits that come from expanding energy production.

From advances to the technology in responsible oil and gas development in the Arctic, to the benefits it will provide to all of Alaska’s people, there is no valid reason why we should not be allowed to access the world-class resources within just a fraction of the coastal plain.

I’ve brought with me today a publication my organization produced in the early 1990’s entitled, “

“Oil production from the coastal plain of ANWR would substantially reduce foreign oil imports and help to decrease the national trade deficit.” That has not changed.

“Billions of barrels of oil, [now over 17 billion barrels], have been produced on the North Slope without causing any significant harm to the environment there. Air quality has consistently met federal and state standards.”

“Two decades, [which has now been four decades], of experience on Alaska’s North Slope have shown that caribou who visit the area for a few months each year have not been harmed by development activities. The Central Arctic herd, which migrates into existing North Slope fields, has expanded from about 3,000 animals in 1970 to approximately 18,000 in 1988, [and more recently in the 60 to 70,000 range.]”

“Federal research and regulatory agencies have concluded that with appropriate environmental regulation, coastal plain of ANWR can be developed without significantly affecting wildlife and the environment.”

We recognize that “Congress also needs to encourage wise energy use and research into the fuels of tomorrow. However, any policy to gain a measure of energy independence must allow for the responsible development of Alaska’s petroleum reserve because no amount of energy savings will eliminate the need for large amounts of fuel in the future. 

Not only does Alaska need oil and gas development in the coastal plain, but America will benefit from it too. We are one nation – let’s help one another and fuel America’s future with ANWR.

Thank you for listening to Alaskans and our support for development in the coastal plain this week and last week. We will submit formal comments before the March 13th deadline. Thank you for the opportunity to comment today.