Bill Walker

Alaska lawmaker sees financial boon in refuge drilling

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski says her legislation to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling would generate $2 billion in royalties over the next decade — with half the money going to her home state.

But environmental groups and other critics call those projections wildly optimistic, noting that recent sales on Alaska's North Slope have fallen short of projected revenue.

Murkowski chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which will hold a hearing on the bill next week. The measure calls for at least two major lease sales over the next decade in areas encompassing at least 400,000 acres each in the refuge's coastal plain. Surface...

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