More broadly, Americans will enjoy greater security, an improved trade balance and cheaper energy — something on all of our minds, given recent increases in gas prices.

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It was disappointing, though not surprising, to read Sally Jewell’s recent Op-Ed [“Let the Trump administration know Arctic refuge is no place for oil and gas drilling,” Opinion, June 1]. Echoing criticisms from like-minded opponents, her piece distorted the history of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the legislative process through which we opened a small fraction of it and the reasons why Congress’ decision actually makes considerable sense.

The 1002 Area of ANWR is located in northeast Alaska, just a few miles from existing development that is safely occurring on state lands. It is named for a section of a 1980 law that conserved a total of 19.3 million acres of land — equal to nearly half of Washington state — while setting 8 percent aside for potential energy development.

A strong majority of Alaskans have long recognized the opportunity the 1002 Area presents. That’s why we undertook an open process last fall to debate the merits of responsible development. Hardly a secret or last-minute deal, we held a public hearing, a markup and multiple floor votes over the course of months — all of which drew bipartisan backing.

Our actions marked the end of a 37-year debate about whether energy production should be allowed in the 1002 Area. But now that efforts are underway to implement the law, we are being subjected to the same arguments we heard decades ago, when the trans-Alaska pipeline was being constructed.

Another view

Sally Jewell: “As a former petroleum engineer, businesswoman and Secretary of the Interior, I can say with confidence there are no justifiable reasons that we must drill for oil in America’s last truly wild place, the Arctic Refuge.”

Read her Op-Ed at HTTPS://

Back then, we were told that the pipeline would wipe out caribou herds and become the greatest environmental disaster of our time. Yet, with time, technology and strong environmental protections, those sensational claims have proved wrong. Today, we have greater reason than ever to be confident in our ability to safely access these resources.

It may surprise you to learn that the footprint of surface development on the North Slope has shrunk by 80 percent since the 1970s. At the same time, subsurface drilling reach has grown by 4,000 percent. For perspective, that’s enough to allow a rig at Safeco Field to reach resources in Bellevue without touching the surface.

Alaska’s caribou have thrived, as well. The Porcupine caribou herd has grown more than sevenfold since production began at Prudhoe Bay. It suffered losses several years ago, but biologists have cited a late spring and mixing with other herds, not the oil and gas activity present on our North Slope for the past 40 years.

As you would expect from Alaskans, the legislation we passed last year prioritizes wildlife and protection of the environment. The leasing program will go through the National Environmental Policy Act process to avoid and minimize potential impacts. We imposed a framework with a range of safeguards that is successfully guiding production in sensitive areas elsewhere in northern Alaska. And we limited surface development to no more than 2,000 federal acres — a fraction of the refuge.

So who will benefit? Alaskans will clearly benefit from new jobs and revenues as we seek to fill our increasingly empty pipeline. And residents of Washington stand to gain as well.

According to a 2015 study from the Seattle Metro Chamber, “an estimated 12,000 Puget Sound jobs and $780 million in labor earnings are connected with refining Alaska oil.” If our oil goes away, so could those jobs. At best, our tankers will be replaced by imports or crude brought across Washington by rail.

More broadly, Americans will enjoy greater security, an improved trade balance and cheaper energy — something on all of our minds, given recent increases in gas prices.

Alaskans are committed to developing our resources responsibly. We have shown the world how to do that. We look forward to the benefits that new production will bring — to our state, to Washington and our nation as a whole.