Walker nominates Arctic, Cook Inlet waters for OCS program

Alaska has made its pitch to the Interior Department to include the Beaufort and Chukchi seas and Cook Inlet in the proposed upcoming five-year Outer Continental Shelf lease sale program.

The nominations to include all three areas in the proposed 2017-2022 OCS lease sale were made by Gov. Bill Walker on Oct. 7 in a letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel.

“Scheduling lease sales is incredibly important to ensure the long-term financial health of Alaska, including making sure we can balance our budget,” Walker said.

“We are very cognizant of ensuring that safeguards are in place to protect subsistence activities.”

“Many safeguards are in place to protect subsistence activities and to allow development in the OCS,” said Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack.

The state receives significant financial and economic benefits from leasing in the Outer Continental Shelf of Alaska, in terms of new employment opportunities and revenue from bonuses, rents and royalties, and it is working with the North Slope Borough to ensure their mutual interests in responsible development are protected.

According to North Slope Borough Mayor Harry Brower, the borough “can support leasing in the OCS so long as the federal government provides the necessary protections and benefits to our communities.

“To that end, the North Slope Borough assembly endorsed eight policies for offshore oil and gas development,” Brower said. “We intend to work with the state of Alaska on these issues going forward.”

The governor’s office noted that in late September that Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott met with North Slope Borough Mayor Harry Brower and Arctic Slope Regional Corp. president and chief executive officer Rex Rock to discuss appropriate safeguards and benefits from development in the Arctic. The Natural Resources Department and North Slope Borough continue to work through a formal memorandum of understanding to collaborate on resource development in the Arctic, the governor’s office said.

If Jewell accepts Alaska’s nominations, the state will use the federal leasing process to facilitate private sector investment and participation in the lease sales, the governor said.