Former Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Amanda Lefton recommended last year the Department of the Interior charge higher royalty fees for an oil and gas lease sale. An accidentally released administration memo revealed that then-Director Lefton acknowledged that a Cook Island project would increase Alaska’s energy security, according to a Fox News report.
The project, covering almost one million acres of Alaska wilderness, was discarded in favor of the one ultimately approved by Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis, the report noted. The Cook Island project was shelved because it would not include extra money to mitigate anticipated environmental effects of climate change and greenhouse gas.
“If a Cook Inlet prospect would be developed, there would be additional government revenues and greater energy security for the State of Alaska, especially if development of natural gas resources in the Cook Inlet ameliorated the long-term supply challenges facing the Anchorage area,” Lefton wrote in the released memo.
Lefton continued by claiming the BOEM could not recommend the Cook Island project because of serious challenges faced by a nearby Indian nation from climate change related to the project. She panned it, “since it would not include an appropriate surcharge to account for those impacts.”
The former BOEM directory specifically recommended charging drillers an 18.75 percent royalty, according to the report. That recommendation was given even though she acknowledged an alternative 16.67 percent royalty would attract more bids and “be more likely to facilitate expeditious and orderly development of [offshore] resources.”
In her record of decision, published in November after she approved Lefton’s recommendation, Daniel-Davis stated she selected the 18.75 percent fee, “because this rate constitutes the most reasonable balancing of environmental and economic factors for the American public.” The report noted Daniel-Davis did not include the finding that the alternative would produce greater energy security as highlighted in the memo.
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