What is ANWR? 
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) consists of 19.3 million acres located in northeast Alaska, roughly equal in size to South Carolina. It was created through an agreement between the State of Alaska and the U.S. Department of the Interior under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) and signed into law in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter. ANILCA officially expanded the original refuge (the Arctic National Wildlife Range) to the south and west by 9.2 million acres of public domain lands and renamed it the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

What is the Coastal Plain and Why is it Referred to as the Section 1002 Area?
ANILCA Section 702(3) designated 8 million acres of the original Wildlife Range as a wilderness area. The remainder of the original refuge, defined in Section 1002 of ANILCA as the Coastal Plain and constituting 1.56 million acres, was not included in the wilderness designation. The Coastal Plain was specifically set aside for future oil and gas exploration and development. This area is commonly referred to as the “Section 1002 Area” nicknamed after the section of ANILCA that excludes the area from ANWR’s wilderness designation. 

ANILCA, “The Great Compromise”
At statehood, Alaska was promised the opportunity to realize revenues from the development of oil and gas resources on federal lands maintained in Alaska (the 90/10 spilt). That promise was routinely broken through the late-1970s as then-President Jimmy Carter and his Department of the Interior moved huge swaths of federal lands into conservation units, essentially placing them off limits to development. ANILCA sought to balance the state’s natural resource-based economy with environmental protection and preserve Alaskans’ unique ways of life. Senator Ted Stevens’ efforts resulted in a compromise whereby the Carter Administration was given the authority to move more than 100 million acres of federal lands into conservation units. In exchange, Congress renewed its promise to allow Alaska the opportunity to realize revenues from remaining federal lands in Alaska, including the specially designated non-wilderness Section 1002 Area.

2020 Bureau of Land Management Lease Sale Overview
For more than 40 years, Alaskans —led by our indigenous and rural communities on the North Slope— have urged Congress to open the Section 1002 Area for resource exploration. With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, Congress authorized the Department of the Interior (DOI), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to establish and administer a competitive oil and gas program in the Coastal Plain, which occurred in December 2020. Of the 22 available tracts, AIDEA bid on 11 tracts, was the successful bidder for nine tracts, and elected to enter into lease agreements for seven tracts in the initial lease sale.  

AIDEA has 10-year lease agreements with the BLM for seven tracts in the Coastal Plain of ANWR totaling 365,775 acres, effective January 1, 2021. To date, AIDEA has spent $12,802,615 on the Section 1002 Area leases, which includes the initial bid amount, the first-year lease payment that was due with the bid amount, and a small processing fee.

Tract #

AIDEA Bid Amount

Successful Bidder

Tract Leaseholder

Tract 16

$1,437,675

AIDEA

AIDEA

Tract 17

$1,096,900

AIDEA

AIDEA

Tract 22

$1,404,200

AIDEA

None

Tract 23

$1,470,750

AIDEA

None

Tract 24

$1,454,400

AIDEA

AIDEA

Tract 25

$1,215,075

Knik Arm Services

Knik Arm Services

Tract 26

$1,335,300

AIDEA

AIDEA

Tract 27

$1,311,175

AIDEA

AIDEA

Tract 29

$586,150

Regenerate Alaska

Regenerate Alaska

Tract 30

$1,169,775

AIDEA

AIDEA

Tract 31

$1,338,650

AIDEA

AIDEA

Natural Resource Estimates and Expected Economic Benefits
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the non-wilderness Section 1002 Area of ANWR contains a mean estimated 7.6 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. In the most recent analysis available on ANWR, when oil was priced at $67.65/bbl in 2017 dollars, the mean estimate of economically recoverable oil on the federal lands in the Section 1002 Area was 7.1 billion bbl with a chance that the federal lands could have had more than 10.7 billion bbl of economically recoverable oil. 

Much of the economic development and jobs supported across Alaska’s indigenous and rural North Slope communities is the result of responsible development of regional oil and gas resources. Public funding from taxes on oil and gas infrastructure has significantly contributed to economic security within these communities and provided revenue to fund local services, schools, health clinics, housing, emergency response, water and wastewater, heat and electric utilities, and countless essential services. 

Additionally, House Joint Resolution 12 (HJR 12) highlighted that exploration, development, and production of the Section 1002 Area leases are predicted to generate within Alaska 1,430 direct jobs and 6,350 indirect jobs annually and 2,480 direct jobs and 10,100 indirect jobs at peak employment.  

Responsible Resource Development
Oil and gas development in Alaska’s arctic has been the backbone of the state’s economy since the discovery of oil and gas in Prudhoe Bay nearly 50 years ago. During this time, the oil industry directly and indirectly created tens of thousands of jobs and saw the Central Arctic Caribou Herd grow from roughly 5,000 in 1978 to approximately 30,000 in 2019, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Since 1970, technological advances in drilling and production have seen the surface footprint of development pads reduce by a factor of 5. What used to take a 65-acre pad to produce just three square miles of reservoir, now uses just a 12-acre pad area to produce more than 100 square miles of reservoir. This incredible advancement in technology has been matched by world-class environmental stewardship and the development of new technologies that help protect the tundra, rivers, lakes and wildlife of Alaska’s precious arctic ecosystem.

With the Coastal Plain Oil & Gas Leasing Program, the Department of the Interior has defined a robust leasing framework with the same high standards and environmental safeguards building on Alaska’s successful track record as a reliable domestic energy resource. Of the 1.56 million acres designated within the Section 1002 Area for its oil and gas potential, the BLM has stipulated that only a maximum of 2,000 acres, or roughly three square miles, can be used for surface infrastructure development. This means that any surface development footprint for oil and gas operations is already mandated to be less than .001% of the Section 1002 Area. All other acreage will continue to be managed as habitat and closely monitored. The lease stipulations include a long list of required operating procedures that incorporate extensive pre-planning and authorizations prior to any operations. These also include protections for wildlife, subsistence access, and the required coordination with Alaska’s native communities on subsistence use.

Support for Responsible Resource Development 
Support for the responsible development of the Section 1002 Area of ANWR comes from a wide cross-section of Alaskans, including 64% of recently surveyed Alaskans, the VOICE of the Arctic lñupiat (a non-profit coalition comprised of 24 entities including tribal councils, regional organizations, municipal governments, and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) corporations located in and around the 1002 Area), Governor Mike Dunleavy, Alaska’s Legislature, and all members of Alaska’s congressional delegation since 1980.

Why Is AIDEA Involved?
AIDEA’s role as a public corporation of the State of Alaska is to identify economic development opportunities within the state and to partner with private capital investors for fulfillment of those opportunities. We have a strong interest in ensuring that Alaska has tangible economic benefits that come from future development of its abundant natural resources and we have a distinct interest to ensure that it is done so responsibly. AIDEA is specifically authorized by the Alaska State Legislature to promote and provide financing for Arctic infrastructure development and to enter into lease agreements with government entities necessary to fulfill these purposes (AS 44.88.800). Since its inception, AIDEA has worked with Alaska Native Corporations, tribal organizations, and indigenous village communities to increase job opportunities and encourage the economic growth of the State, particularly in rural and remote areas including the North Slope region of Alaska.  

Timeline

Nov. 4, 2021

AIDEA filed a legal complaint in the District of Alaska US Courts against the Biden Administration on actions they have taken to obstruct and delay development of the Section 1002 Leases.

June 11, 2021

AIDEA issues formal response to the Department of Interior’s announcement to suspend oil and gas leases. Requests statutory, regulatory evidence for suspension.

June 1, 2021

Department of Interior announces suspension on oil and gas leases in ANWR.

Jan. 20, 2021

President Biden announces moratorium on all oil and gas leasing activities in ANWR.

Jan. 19, 2021

Bureau of Land Management announces official leaseholders; AIDEA holds 7 tracts.

Jan. 6, 2021

Bureau of Land Management opens submitted sealed bids; AIDEA is the successful bidder of 9 of 11 tracts.

Dec. 31, 2020

Deadline to submit qualified bids on leases.

Dec. 7, 2020

Bureau of Land Management posts Detailed Statement of Sale.

Aug. 17, 2020

Record of Decision (ROD) reached.

Dec. 22, 2017

President Trump signs the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which includes authorization for responsible development in 1002 Area of ANWR.

May 1998

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 1002 Area, Petroleum Assessment. Its mid-range estimate of oil in place rises from 13.8 billion barrels to 20.7 billion barrels.

Dec. 1995

President Clinton vetoes the Balanced Budget Act, and with it Congress’ ANWR drilling authorization.

Oct. 1995

Congress authorizes oil drilling in the coastal plain of ANWR.

Sept. 1987

Department of Interior recommends to Congress that the coastal plain be open for drilling exploration.

Feb. 1987

Draft Environmental Impact Statement for ANWR exploration is published.

1983-85

Approximately 1,180 line miles of two-dimensional geophysical data acquired in ANWR.

Dec. 2, 1980

President Carter signs the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), which expands the refuge from 8.9 million acres to 19.3 million acres. The refuge is renamed the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The law mandates that potential oil reserves in the refuge’s 1.5 million-acre coastal plain (1002 area) be considered for development, but only if authorized by Congress.

Dec. 18, 1971

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) is signed into law, which grants Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation surface rights to 69,000 acres within the refuge.

1960

President Eisenhower designates 8.9 million acres in northeastern Alaska as a protected wildlife refuge.