Alaska Considers Blocking Obama’s Drilling Ban

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Alaskan Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young are considering overturning President Barack Obama’s bans on new offshore oil drilling.

The lawmakers could introduce legislation overturning Obama’s actions either by authorizing the incoming President-elect Donald Trump to undo any prior offshore drilling bans or simply overturning the specific bans from Obama outright.

“The Congressman believes this decision can be overturned by the incoming Administration and will be encouraging President Trump to do so,” Matt Shuckerow, a spokesman for Young, told The Hill. “In addition, Congressman Young will also pursue legislation to overturn this decision.”

Obama declared Tuesday that most of the U.S.-controlled Arctic Ocean would be indefinitely closed to drilling, as well as along with 31 undersea canyons on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

Alaska is a particularly good spot for offshore drilling as the Beaufort and Chukchi seas contain an estimated 23.6 billion barrels of oil and 104.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Developing offshore drilling is supported by 73 percent of Alaskans, according to a 2014 poll. Studies by industry groups estimate that offshore drilling would create 840,000 American jobs and nearly $200 billion in revenue for the government by 2035.

Opening federal lands for natural gas, oil, and other drilling would create 2.7 million jobs and add $663 billion to the economy each year for the next 30 years, according to a new study published last December by Louisiana State University and the free-market Institute for Energy Research.

Opening up these lands and waters would also lead to $5.1 trillion in new wages and $3.9 trillion in new federal tax revenue over the next 37 years, which would massively stimulate the economy, according to the research. This would create and support 2.7 million new jobs over a 30-year period.

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