News-Miner opinion: The Trump administration moved toward opening up 90 percent of the nation’s offshore oil reserves last week. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke rolled out the five-year plan that allows for 47 offshore drilling leases, with 19 of those off the coast of Alaska.
It’s the latest in a bevy of headlines that spark visions of a robust economy for Alaska in the not-too-distant future. Add offshore drilling to the list that includes the following: Gov. Bill Walker’s proposed natural gas pipeline, the opening of a portion of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development, Kinross applying for permits to expand the boundaries of its Fort Knox Gold Mine and the Pebble Partnership being allowed to apply for mining permits at its Pebble Mine site near Bristol Bay.
Alaska may not see all of these developments come to fruition, but this diverse portfolio has the potential to create many jobs and pump money into Alaska’s economy.
Greater offshore drilling would be a welcome development for Alaska, especially if the state can secure a revenue sharing model with the oil companies. Alaska waters extend three miles beyond its coastline, but Alaska would recieve 27 percent of federal royalties in the area three-to-six miles offshore.
But Alaska would not recieve any federal royalties for drilling operations beyond six miles offshore. Congress still debates revenue sharing.