Testimony to the Bureau of Land Management
Willow SDEIS

April 29, 2020

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Willow SDEIS My name is Marleanna Hall and I am the executive director for the Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc., commonly referred to as RDC. 

RDC is statewide trade association comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s fishing, forestry, mining, oil and gas, and tourism industries. RDC’s membership includes all 12 land-owning Alaska Native corporations, local communities, organized labor, industry support firms, and thousands of Alaskans supporting responsible development of Alaska’s natural resources. RDC’s purpose is to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources.

I’m here today to express strong support for Alternative B and module transfer Option 3 in the Final EIS for the Willow project. Option 3 addresses concerns from North Slope communities about a gravel island’s potential impacts on marine mammal subsistence activities and decreases the amount of gravel needed for the project. Alternative B reflects feedback from North Slope stakeholders that minimize the impact of the project.

Alaska depends on the responsible development of its natural resources to expand and support its economy. Article VIII of our state constitution mandates that we develop our resources to the maximum benefit for all Alaskans.

In fact, it wasn’t until the discovery of oil in the 1950s that led Congress to finally vote in favor of Alaska’s statehood. Through the discovery of oil, Congress realized Alaska could have a healthy economy through development of its natural resources. From that, Alaska’s North Slope has produced more than 18 billion barrels of oil since the discovery of the Prudhoe Bay oil field. 

Production from Willow could help meet the purpose of National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which is to develop America’s energy resources. The 23-million acre reserve was set aside nearly a century ago for its petroleum value. In an updated report, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates the reserve could hold nearly 9 billion barrels of oil.

Development from the Willow project is an important resource for meeting our nation’s energy demands and achieving energy dominance, even during these low consumption times due to the pandemic. Production from Willow could serve to help maintain the integrity of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, a critical link to America’s energy distribution. Given the vast resources believed to be available in NPR-A, future production could reverse the decline in TAPS, allowing it to remain viable for decades.

This is a valuable resource to Alaska and our nation. Development of the proposed $5-$6 billion project could provide benefits to the local and state economies through local hire for jobs created during construction and operations, tax revenues, federal revenue sharing from royalties and lease rentals and new resources to help meet domestic energy demand.

The Willow project could create more than 2,000 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs at a time when Alaskans need jobs. Moreover, the BLM estimates that Willow could generate more than $10 billion dollars in federal, state, and North Slope Borough revenue.