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Juneau – Wednesday, the Alaska House of Representatives approved a resolution urging Congress to pass legislation to open the 1002 study area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil and gas exploration and development. House Joint Resolution 5, sponsored by Representative Dean Westlake (D-Kotzebue), passed the Alaska House of Representatives by a vote of 31-4. The resolution was co-sponsored by 12 members of the Alaska House.
“I realize this is a contentious issue for some lawmakers and many stakeholders across the state,” said Rep. Westlake. “However, this is the region I represent, and while subsistence is our main priority, so are jobs. That’s why I am here, to help create jobs for my region.”
The Alaska National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1980 with the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), which designated nearly 19.5 million acres as wildlife refuge. Section 1002 of ANILCA set aside 1.5 million acres for possible oil and gas development, but it would take an act of Congress for that development to move forward. Over the last several years, legislation filed in Congress has proposed to develop less than 2,000 acres of the coastal plain.
“With Alaska’s strong history of responsible natural resource development, high environmental standards, and advances in technology like directional drilling, I feel confident that this tiny fraction of ANWR can be safety developed for the maximum benefit to all Alaskans,” said Rep. Westlake. “ANWR could be another Prudhoe Bay for Alaska. With the oil volume in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline declining we need to have everything on the table for discussion. I want jobs for my region, employment for my people, strong schools, and enough State Troopers to ensure public safety. Those things have to be paid for, so it’s time to get to work.”
HJR 5 will now be sent to the Alaska Senate for consideration. The Senate Special Committee on the Arctic has already schedule a hearing for the resolution Friday afternoon.