US agency to consider expanded drilling in Alaska reserve

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska A federal agency has drafted new management alternatives that could lead to expanded drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

The Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday it will take public comment through Jan. 21 on four alternatives for the Indiana-size reserve in northern Alaska.

Two would allow lease sales on lands previously designated as special conservation areas under the Obama administration.

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed off on the previous management plan and characterized the reserve as an “iconic place on our Earth.”

BLM Alaska director Chad Padgett says in the announcement that the agency will seek comment on a new plan to support increased production of energy resources.

He says that with more knowledge of the area and advancements in technology, it was prudent to develop a new plan.