The Senate passed a tax plan that includes opening up the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development. Supporters of the plan claim that lease sales in this part of Alaska’s wilderness will rake in $1 billion for the federal government, offsetting tax cuts.
But the plan won’t make anywhere near that much money. Historically, the federal government has been selling gas leases on nearby land for an average of $50 per acre. Let’s say the government got that price for all of the 1.5 million acres they propose opening up in the Wildlife Refuge. That would only raise $75 million, and half of that would go to the state, leaving $37.5 million for the federal government.
The price per acre could be even lower, if the most recent lease sale is an indicator. Just last week, the federal government tried to auction off over 10 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve, an area not far from the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Less than 1 percent of the available acres were sold, bringing in just $14.99 per acre. We need to keep oil in the ground to fight climate change, but this plan doesn’t even make sense from an economic standpoint.
The tax plan must now go through a reconciliation process. This week, call your elected officials in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and ask them to kill the plan to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge-because it just won’t pay.