Way back in 1980, Congress passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, establishing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and making numerous other land use decisions for our 49th state. Section 1002 of the act postponed a decision on managing ANWR’s 1.5-million-acre coastal plain, which has enormous oil and gas potential and is important summertime wildlife habitat.
For four decades, environmentalists blocked legislation that would have opened the coastal plain to leasing and drilling. In 1995 President Clinton vetoed a pro-drilling bill that had passed both houses.
At long last, the tax-cut legislation just passed by Congress allows America to benefit from the petroleum resources that experts predict will be found in a small section of the plain, along Alaska’s northern coast. The legislation directs the Interior Department to hold at least two lease sales over the next 10 years, for a maximum of 2,000 acres opened to drilling. Analysts say the