Washington, D.C. (KINY) Alaska's congressional delegation all voted in favor of a tax reform package that provides tax relief but also opens the door to more oil exploration.
U.S. Senator Murkowski (R-AK) applauded passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act conference report, comprehensive tax reform that reduces taxes and encourages the economic growth needed to create jobs and generate wealth. The legislation includes a section written by Senator Murkowski, which contains an important step in creating new economic opportunities by opening up the non-wilderness 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for responsible energy development. The bill now heads to the President to be signed into law. “The passage of this bill marks a defining moment in our nation’s history. It’s been 31 years since we last reformed the tax code—and this bill comes not a moment too soon. It’s time we deliver relief, tax cuts, and good jobs for hard-working Americans,” Senator Murkowski said. “The combination of developing more of our natural resources and stimulating America’s economy through tax cuts will create opportunities for our nation and enable Americans to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. It doubles the standard deduction, doubles the child tax credit, and lowers each individual tax bracket. This bill also provides a tremendous opportunity for small businesses. Bottom line, it will be good for our economy, good for jobs and growth, and good for families and businesses.”
As chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Murkowski is the author of the bill’s second title, which opens a small portion of the non-wilderness 1002 Area of ANWR for responsible energy development. It establishes an environmentally protective oil and gas development program with two lease sales required over the next ten years, and puts Alaska and the entire nation on a path toward greater economic prosperity for decades to come. “This is a watershed moment for Alaska and all of America,” Murkowski said. “We have fought to open the 1002 Area for a very long time, and now, our day has finally arrived. I thank all who kept this effort alive over the decades, especially Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski, and all who supported this bill. Alaskans can now look forward to our best opportunity to refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, thousands of jobs that will pay better wages, and potentially $60 billion in royalties for our state alone. This is a major victory for Alaska that will help us fulfill the promises of our statehood and give us renewed hope for growth and prosperity.”
Governor Bill Walker called the provision to open ANWR is responsible resource development, “The tax legislation passed today opens one of the most prospective onshore areas in the world to responsible oil and gas exploration and development – limited to an area that is 1/750th of the 1002 Area – right here on the North Slope of Alaska. This has been an Alaskan pursuit for half a century, and today, Congress has finally unlocked the promise of utilizing these resources. Moving forward, we will continue to dialogue with all Alaskans, and ensure that any potential development in the 1002 Area takes into consideration Alaskan concerns previously expressed. I sincerely thank Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan, and Congressman Young for all they have done to fight for this opportunity, and am pleased about what this means for Alaska’s resource future.”
Senator Dan Sullivan said Alaskans have fought for the right and opportunity to develop the ANWR and he said this will strengthen communities and build a better life for Alaskans, “But for decades, we’ve been denied that right. Today that has changed. I want to thank all of the hundreds – if not thousands of Alaskans – who have spent countless hours over the years to get this done. I want to thank Senator Murkowski and Congressman Young for all of their hard work over the years on this issue. I also want to thank the late Senator Ted Stevens and his family, who spent much of his life on this just cause. Twelve years ago, his last attempt to open the 1002 Area of the coastal plain was blocked. Senator Stevens said that it was the ‘saddest day of his life.’ Today, no doubt, he’s looking down on us, with a smile on his face.”
Congressman Don Young said he felt Democrats were not telling the truth as these bills were debated, “This is a historic moment for Alaskans and I am incredibly proud of the work this delegation has done over the years to open the 1002 Area of ANWR,” Young said. “Congress specifically set aside this land to be used for responsible resource development and it was always intended to unleash America’s potential energy production. Opening this area will create more jobs for Alaskans, generate future revenue for this country to pay down the deficit and keep energy affordable for American families and businesses. I am especially proud to see this measure pass today because I have fought to open the 1002 area for the past 40 years and today marks an important step in this process.”
For 37 years, the members of Alaska’s congressional delegation have championed legislation to open a small portion of the 1002 Area, within the non-wilderness portion of ANWR, to responsible energy development. That effort culminated today with congressional passage of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which President Trump is expected to sign in the days ahead.
In 1980, Congress set aside the 1.57-million acre 1002 Area for potential future development, which is supported by a strong majority of Alaskans. Surface development will be limited to 2,000 federal acres—just one ten-thousandth of all of ANWR—and will bring an estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil to market that could strengthen the nation’s energy security long into the future.