Murkowski reveals Arctic Refuge drilling details

USGS map, via Senate Energy Committee

Sen. Lisa Murkowski Wednesday released legislation that would open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

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If approved by the Senate Energy Committee, which she chairs, the refuge provision would become part of the Senate budget reconciliation bill, along with the Republican tax cuts.

Murkowski’s part of the bill would lift the ban on drilling in the so-called 1002 area, along the coastal plain of the refore. It would split revenues 50-50 between the state and the federal government. The Alaska statehood compact calls for a 90-10 split, favoring the state, but Gov. Bill Walker said last week he’s fine with an even split if it leads to the long-sought development in the refuge.

In a written statement, Murkowski said the Congressional Budget Office has concluded the legislation would raise $1.092 billion over 10 years, which was a requirement under the budget plan Congress passed. Beyond the 10-year budget window, Murkowski said opening ANWR would raise “tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars over the decades to come.”

Murkowski plans to debate the measure in her committee next Wednesday. Most of the panel’s Democrats ardently oppose drilling in the refuge. Only one Democrat on the committee, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, is on the record in favor of ANWR drilling. Still, there’s little doubt Murkowski has the votes to advance the measure to the Senate floor.