Alaska’s congressional delegation is asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to remove some of the state’s waters from the Interior’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore drilling plan.
The Alaskan lawmakers, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young, sent a letter to Zinke Friday, asking Hope Basin, Norton Basin, St. Matthew-Hall, Navarin Basin, Aleutian Basin, Bowers Basin, Aleutian Arc, St. George Basin, Shumagin, Kodiak and Gulf of Alaska be removed from the draft of the OCS five-year plan.
The lawmakers, all Republicans, directed Zinke to focus on opening the Chukchi and Beaufort seas and the Cook inlet to drilling instead. The Chukchi and Beaufort hold the second and fourth largest estimated reserves of recoverable oil and natural gas.
“Such a program will maximize agency resources and reflect the areas with the broadest support for development among Alaskans,” the letter states. “[The OCS plan] shows a genuine commitment to our nation’s energy security and presents a great opportunity o continue reducing our foreign oil dependence while strengthening our economy.”
Zinke is currently in the process of meeting with state governors and soliciting comments related to the offshore plan. After Zinke announced he would be removing the Florida coast, containing some of the most sought after areas of the OCS for oil and gas companies, other governors have made calls for Zinke to remove their states’ coasts, as well.
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