Interior Secretary Ken Salazar unveiled a proposed management plan Monday for a vast petroleum reserve on Alaska’s North Slope, and the state’s senior senator immediately pronounced it too restrictive.
Republican Lisa Murkowski said the Obama administration picked the most restrictive management plan possible for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, an area created by President Warren Harding in 1923 that covers 23 million acres, roughly the size of Indiana.
The environmentally sensitive Teshekpuk Lake area, renowned for its habitat for migratory birds, including black brant, Canada geese and greater white-fronted geese, already was under a 10-year deferral for additional study, she said.
“This alternative goes vastly beyond that, putting half of the petroleum reserve off limits,” Murkowski said. “This decision denies U.S. taxpayers both revenue and jobs at a time when our nation faces record debt and chronic unemployment.”
At a press conference, Salazar said the proposal balances wildlife protection, villagers’ subsistence requirements and the nation’s need for additional petroleum.
About 11.8 million acres would be available for leasing, including most land projected to contain oil reserves, Salazar said.