Alaska’s state development company can now spend up to $ 20 million on the purchase of oil leases in the coastal plain from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The board of directors of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority unanimously approved the spending on Wednesday evening

“I believe resource development is our future” said AIDEA board member Albert Fogle A stronger resource development industry will penetrate the other industries ????

The idea is that AIDEA could buy the drilling rights to land that was leased to the Trump administration on Jan. Offered Jan. 6 And then at some point you work with companies to do the actual drilling

There is a way for the state to secure the rights to drill in the coastal plain in case no one else bids on the leases

Public comment at Wednesday’s meeting was dominated by people who opposed AIDEA’s offers for the federal oil leases

Some cited concerns about the impact of drilling on global climate and wildlife in the coastal plain, including polar bears and caribou

“The Arctic Refuge is a majestic landscape where humans and animals are equally interdependent,” said Karlin Itchoak, State Director of the Wilderness Society “The indigenous people of Alaska like the Gwich” and the Inupiaq have relied on the refuge for millennia and you protectedâ ????

RELATED: The Trump Administration Is Trying To Sell Leases In ANWR, But Will Someone Show Up On A Sale?

“They are trying to mend a declining industry that the state of Alaska is already too heavily invested in,” said Julian Dan, a graduate student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Matthew Jackson of Ketchikan described AIDEA’s purchase of leases as a “ticket to decades of litigation” a ???? It would put the state at great risk, some said

Others said if oil companies really want to drill into the refuge, they will buy the leases themselves

Diane Preston of Fairbanks was among many who beat up AIDEA for not giving the Alaskans more time to ponder whether to spend money on oil leases

The agency published the text of the resolution approved on Wednesday just two days before the meeting

“I think having a few short days is pretty incomprehensible” procedure for public commenting on such an important topic, especially during the pandemic and holiday week, ???? Preston said

â ???? I don’t think that speaks well for you those of you who thought you could do this under the radar ????

90 minutes were allotted for public telephone comments on Wednesday. Then it went into a two-hour, private board meeting

She said the Federal Land Management Agency did not publish details of the lease sale for coastal plains until early December

And in the days that followed, she said, discussions about AIDEA bids on the Bill Walker and Frank Murkowski leases broke out on pillars of opinion from former Alaska governments

At the Wednesday meeting, Murkowski told board members that the state had an “exceptional opportunity” to buy the leases because, he argued, they were basically 50% cheaper. The state receives half of the rental income

“The future of the state is more production from an oil production standpoint” he said You need more production You need more leasesâ ????

RELATED: The lease is in place, but how much oil is actually on the ANWR coastal plain?

Murkowski has long supported the opening of the coastal plain to oil production and his daughter US. Sen Lisa Murkowski cited a provision in a tax law in 2017 to allow drilling there and remove decades of protection

Board chairwoman Dana Pruhs said approving the money for the leases is also a way to protect the sovereign rights of the state and “40 years of everyone’s efforts to open up the coastal plain in ANWR”a ????

That’s because the federal government retains control if a tract on lease sales doesn’t get bids in the next month

And two weeks after the lease sale, President-elect Joe Biden steps down. Biden has said he refuses to drill the refuge and will take steps to protect the land permanently

The vote on Wednesday means that AIDEA’s director, Alan Weitzner, has the authority to assess the land available for lease and to decide on the tender

He has until just 4pm next Thursday to submit sealed bids to the Bureau of Land Management

The federal government will then on 1 January all offers open 6 and award the rental contracts to the most highly qualified bidders

Groups opposed to drilling have asked a federal judge to block the upcoming sale, and a decision is awaited by Jan 6

The Anchorage Daily News also reported that the board vote on Wednesday could be challenged for unconfirmed appointments


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