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Permanently banning responsible development of the enormous energy resources beneath Alaskaâ€™s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) takes billions of dollars out of the economy, costs Americans sorely-needed jobs and contributes to higher prices to heat their homes and gas up their cars, says U.S. Sen. Mark Begich.
“This annual short-sighted and predictable effort to lock up the Arctic Refuge may score some points from environmental groups but does nothing to create jobs for unemployed Americans or assure a steady source of affordable energy for American families,” Begich said. “Instead of erecting a stop sign to responsible energy development, we should be green-lighting more domestic energy production and the thousands of jobs for Americans it creates.”
Begich’s comments are in reaction to a letter organized Tuesday by two congressional Democrats urging Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to forever ban oil and gas development in ANWR by designating the most promising section of oil and gas as wilderness. Only 14 senators signed the letter authored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) who annually tries to drum up support for wilderness in ANWR.
At a time when the U.S. is importing more than half of its oil from foreign countries, Begich said ANWR is estimated by federal geologists to hold up to 10.5 billion barrels of oil. The vast majority of Alaskans strongly support responsible oil and gas development in ANWR and off Alaska’s Arctic coast to help meet the nation’s energy demands.
The senator also has been pushing the Obama Administration to permit oil and gas development in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and in the Outer Continental Shelf off Alaska’s coast, where reserves are enormous. For example, the oil beneath the Chukchi and Beaufort seas is estimated at 25 billion barrels.
Begich said he supports legislation moving in the U.S. House sponsored by Alaska Congressman Don Young to open the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas development.
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