Last week, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued a five-year strategy that would open offshore drilling from Virginia to Georgia, but put previously deferred areas off the Alaskan coast off-limits, reports Politico.
While possibly good news for the Atlantic coast ― as well as the oil and gas industry ― the Alaskan delegation is far from pleased. Just last week, the Obama administration announced its intention to close of 12.28 million acres of Alaskan land from oil and gas exploration in the name of wildlife preservation.
“This administration is determined to shut down oil and gas production in Alaska’s federal areas ― and this offshore plan is yet another example of their short-sighted thinking,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in a statement. “The president’s indefinite withdrawal of broad areas of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas is the same unilateral approach this administration is taking in placing restrictions on the vast energy resources in ANWR and the NPR-A.”
While the Interior’s proposed plan does included three proposed lease sales in Alaska’s federal waters, Murkowski says it’s not enough. “The proposed lease sales we’re talking about right now aren’t scheduled until after President Obama is out of office,” Murkowski said. “Forgive me for remaining skeptical about this administration’s commitment to our energy security.”
Obama’s recent give-and-take oil and gas policy is particularly confusing in the wake of his State of the Union address, where he lauded the U.S.’s growth in production and drop in oil prices over the past year.