January 17, 2007
(SitNews) - Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) sat down with Washington D.C.-based Alaska reporters to discuss a wide variety of topics as the 110th Congress begins. Alaska's senior senator spoke about the Alaska issues he believes big and that will come before Congress in 2007.
Stevens told reporters Tuesday that he does not hold much hope that a new land management plan for the Tongass National Forest will contain enough of an increase in logging to help the Southeast Alaska's timber industry.
Stevens said, "Once I look back, I was criticized for having supported to compromise that led to the Tongass Land Management Plan legislation." He continued, "And the criticism was valid because they said that I had trusted the people involved in terms of making the commitments to withdraw land. Once that land was withdrawn, those same people starting attacking the land that had been set aside for timber harvest areas and for multiple use." Stevens said, "I really don't think they are going to stop attacking any concept of multiple use of that forest land in Southeast Alaska."
Stevens also said he supports President Bush's new plan for the Iraq War to increase U.S. troop presence there. Senator Stevens said he doesn't anticipate that Alaska troops will be asked to return for another tour because of the surge unless the war drags out another two or three years. "I don't think it will," he said.
Stevens also spoke about other issues such as over-fishing by bottom trawlers in international waters and increasing mileage standards for new automobiles (CAFE) will also be on his to-do list this year.
Joining in the effort to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Senator Lisa Murkowski on Wednesday introduced energy efficiency legislation to promote the development of additional forms of renewable energy and to pave the way for improved fuel consumption by vehicles. The bill, the Renewable Energy, Fuel Reduction, and Economic Stabilization and enHancement Act of 2007 the REFRESH Act will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel usage by approximately 530 million metric tons in the United States by 2025 a 7 percent cut over what emissions otherwise may be that year.
The legislation, a companion to a bill by Senator Ted Stevens (S. 183) to raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) of automobiles to 40 miles per gallon within a decade, invests in alternative and renewable energy and promotes greater efficiency of energy use in the transportation sector. Combined, the two measures seek to reduce American fossil fuel consumption by nearly 5 million barrels of oil a day by 2025.
"In Alaska, we have certainly seen firsthand the effects of a warming climate in recent years," said Senator Murkowski. "It only makes sense that we take common sense steps now to improve fuel efficiency, to promote the development of a wider range of alternative energy technologies and to encourage Americans to buy more fuel efficient vehicles. This bill includes vital measures we must take to reduce fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions."
To promote renewable and alternative energy development the legislation will provide grants and tax credits for the development of geothermal power, all forms of ocean energy and small hydro-electric plant development. The Electric Power Research Institute has estimated that wave energy off U.S. coasts alone could conservatively generate 252 million megawatt hours of electricity -- 6.5 percent of all energy now produced in America. Alaska has nearly 80 coastal and river communities that could benefit greatly by development of ocean energy systems.
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