As Shell Scraps Arctic Drilling Plan, Gov. Declares: 'We Need To Get Some Oil in that Pipeline... Quick'
Governor Bill Walker pivots on Shell announcement to renew calls to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and fill Alaska's trans-state pipeline
Evan as campaigners were quick to celebrate Monday's news that Royal Dutch Shell would be halting its Arctic drilling operation, Alaska's governor responded with an immediate call for more fossil fuel development by targeting one of the state's most pristine and sensitive regions.
The same day that the oil giant announced that it would be abandoning its offshore drilling operations, Gov. Bill Walker (I) said he was on the phone with the White House renewing his push to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for drilling.
During a press conference on Monday, Walker reiterated his intent to find another source to fill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System now that it was clear that Shell's offshore drilling operations would not be flooding the 800-mile network, which is currently running less than one quarter of its total capacity.
"We need to get some oil in the pipeline, and we need to do it as quickly as possible," Walker said, adding that the state is an "oil dependent economy and we need to do everything we can to put oil—safely put oil—in the pipeline."
Specifically, Walker said he and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell are working to find an opportunity to meet and discuss opening up the 10-02 section, or the Coastal Plain, of the ANWR.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration recommended assigning this area a wilderness designation due to the abundance of wildlife and fragility of the ecosystem there. During President Barack Obama's recent visit to Alaska, Walker said that he implored the president to "develop our known resources" in the Coastal Plain.
"While [Shell’s] recent announcement is disappointing," Walker said, " it is a reminder that underscores the need for Alaska to drive its own destiny through development of known gas resources, as well as rich oil reserves in a small area of ANWR."
On this front, he added, he plans to "hit the ground running."