Alaska may open up again for oil leasing, but risks linger

January 8, 2018

President Donald Trump's plan to open America's oceans to petroleum drilling was condemned by West Coast and Florida governors but welcomed in the state where most lease sales could be held.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, an independent facing re-election this year, embraced Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s proposed 19 lease sales in the state, including six in the potentially oil rich but environmentally sensitive Arctic Ocean waters.

"The Department of Interior’s draft five-year offshore leasing plan is an important step toward allowing Alaskans to responsibly develop our natural resources as we see fit," Walker said Thursday.

But the big question is whether oil companies will commit the substantial resources it would take to invest in a frontier area where the cost of drilling is extremely high compared with other regions - and simultaneously face the wrath of environmental groups fiercely opposed to Arctic offshore drilling.

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