Bush Budget Triples Money from Alaska Oil Drilling
WASHINGTON The Bush administration Monday again asked Congress to allow oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), but almost tripled its estimate for the amount of money that would be collected in leasing fees from energy companies.
In its proposed budget for the 2007 spending year, the White House said it assumed the initial tracts in the refuge could be leased in 2008 and bring in $7 billion in new revenues, half of which would be shared with the state of Alaska.
That is almost triple the $2.4 billion the administration said in last year's budget it thought could be raised from the first round of ANWR leasing.
The administration did not explain what was behind its higher estimate for leasing fees, but it presumably reflects the jump in oil prices.
The refuge, which is home to a variety of wildlife such as polar bears and migratory birds, stretches across 19 million acres (7.7 million hectares) in the northeast corner of Alaska. But the White House only wants to offer 1.5 million acres (607,000 hectares) in the refuge's coastal plain for oil and natural gas exploration leases.
The administration has failed every year to convince Congress to give energy companies access to the refuge, which is a key part of the White House's national energy plan.
Republican Sen. Pete Domenici, chairman of the Senate's energy committee, has said he will try in the spring to add ANWR drilling language to the filibuster-proof budget bill.
The Interior Department estimates the refuge could hold between 5.7 billion and 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil.
If the refuge was opened to drilling, it would take about eight years before the area reached full production of around 800,000 to 1 million barrels per day, according to the Energy Department's analytical arm.