Oil & Gas Lease Sale in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

StatementOil & Gas Lease Sale in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Today the Department Of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management reported results from the first of two auctions for leases to develop oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge authorized in the 2017 Tax Act. Via livestream, the Bureau announced winning bids for the 22 parcels on offer starting at 10AM Alaska time. Bids were received by December 31, 2020 but made public for the first time this morning.

Autumn Hanna, TCS vice president, had the following statement on the lease sale:  

“As expected, today’s lease sale in the Arctic Refuge was a bust for taxpayers. In 2017, leasing in ANWR was sold as a way to bring in $1 billion in new revenue to help offset the nearly $2 trillion dollars lost in the tax bill. That was always a far-fetched fantasy and these results prove it. 

Only 11 of the parcels on offer received bids and those averaged only $26/acre, not even in the ballpark of the amount needed to reach the billion-dollar promise. All but two sold for the minimum bid of $25/acre. Revenue from the winning bids totaled $14.4 million, half of which is shared with the State of Alaska. Including first year’s rent for the parcels that sold, federal taxpayers will get just $10 million, or one percent of the billion dollars in revenue touted as an offset to the 2017 Tax Bill.   

Holding this lease sale at the 11th hour of this Administration, during the pandemic when oil demand is low and prices in flux, all but doomed this already questionable sale from the start.  

Now taxpayers will have to deal with the fallout. Industry interest in the sale was so low the State of Alaska stepped in to bid and won 9 of the 11 parcels that sold. The nearly absent industry interest means federal taxpayers have poor prospects for more revenue from oil and gas development down the road.” 

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