Morning Headlamp — Obama Administration Risks Industry Growth with Lease Decision

A parting gift. On Friday, the Obama administration finally made good on it’s long-suspected goal and blocked the sale of new oil and gas permits in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. The Department of the Interior also limited leasing in the Cook Inlet, a strong signal for environmental and anti-industry activists.

According to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, “The plan focuses on lease sales in the best places — those with highest resource potential, lowest conflict, and established infrastructure — and removes regions that are simply not right to lease…Given the unique and challenging Arctic environment and industry’s declining interest in the area, forgoing lease sales in the Arctic is the right path forward.”

“We have shown that Arctic development is one of the best ways to create jobs, generate revenues, and refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in a statement, adding that she was “infuriated” by the Obama administration’s decision. “Why the president is willing to send all of those benefits overseas is beyond explanation.”

President-elect Donald trump has been public about his desire to strengthen oil and gas resource development during his presidency, but that could prove more difficult than his administration realizes. According to Rachel Waldholz, “If the incoming Trump administration wants to allow new exploration in the Arctic Ocean, it will have to start over almost from scratch, a regulatory process that would likely take years.” To undo the Obama administration’s ban, a new administration would have to prepare a supplemental report, which could take as long as two years, depending on whether it needs to prepare a new environmental impact statement.

Obviously, Headlamp is deeply saddened and frustrated by the administration’s latest move against the Alaskan oil and gas industry. Despite the many economic and geopolitical benefits, Obama has chosen to further belabor an already suffering industry, risk American energy independence, and allow other world powers a better foothold in a developing region.

Arctic Energy Center spokesman Lucas Frances took a shot at recent commentary in the ADN on TAPS, arguing that the piece ignored the obvious facts. According to Frances, “The good folks at Alaska Dispatch News served up a dog’s breakfast on Nov. 15 with columnist Charles Wohlforth’s characterization of the state’s energy corridor, none other than the backbone of Alaska’s energy link to the Lower 48 — the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). Wohlforth focused on a disparate collection of emotions but ignored the very obvious facts that have made TAPS an unparalleled success, not just for the economy of the state but as testament to the commitment of generations of Alaskans.”


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First Reads

Obama administration bars new oil, gas exploration off Alaska
CNBC, Tim Aubry, November 18, 2016

On its way out, Obama administration moves to slam the door shut on Arctic drilling
The Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Steven Mufson, November 18, 2016

A Trump Reversal On Obama’s Arctic Oil Drilling Ban Won’t Be Easy
NPR, Rachel Waldholz, November 19, 2016

Nikiski LNG terminal is up for sale
Alaska Journal of Commerce, Ben Boettger, November 20, 2016

Wohlforth swings and misses with column on oil, pipeline
Alaska Dispatch News, Lucas Frances, November 20, 2016