SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Governor Comments on ANWR Legislation


January 14, 2009

(SitNews) - Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), along with 23 Senate colleagues, today re-introduced legislation to protect the coastal plains region of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) from the threat of oil and gas exploration. The legislation would provide 1.5 million acres of the land with wilderness designation, reaffirming the original intent of the refuge to provide habitat for Alaska's wildlife.

Quoting a news release from Lieberman's office, while supporters of drilling in the refuge have touted the coastal plain as the largest potential reserve of domestic oil, the U.S. Geologic Survey estimates the amount of commercially recoverable oil would meet no more than two percent of our nation's use at any given time. Additionally, scientific analyses by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conclude that drilling would severely harm the abundant populations of polar bears, caribou, musk oxen, and snow geese in the refuge.

"The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a pristine natural treasure that must be preserved for future generations," said Lieberman. "We do not have to choose between conservation and exploration when it comes to our energy future; we can do both simultaneously while moving toward a sustainable and diverse national energy policy."

The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Murray, Stabenow, Whitehouse, Leahy, Cardin, Schumer, Kohl, Feingold, Kennedy, Durbin, Dodd, Boxer, Cantwell, Wyden, Reed, Feinstein, Sanders, Tom Udall, Mark Udall, Harkin, Lautenberg, Kerry, and Klobuchar.

In response to the re-introduction of this legislation, Governor Sarah Palin said, "I am dismayed that legislation has again been introduced in Congress to prohibit forever oil and gas development in the most promising unexplored petroleum province in North America ­ the coastal plain of ANWR, in Alaska."

Palin said in a prepared statement, "Let's not forget: Only six months ago, oil was selling for nearly $150 per barrel, while Americans were paying $4 a gallon and more for gasoline. And today, there is potential for prices to rebound as OPEC asserts its market power, and as Russia is disrupting needed natural gas to Europe, for the second time in three years."

"As I traveled throughout the country campaigning for vice president, I was glad to hear politicians, including President-elect Barack Obama, promise 'everything was on the table' to address America's great challenges. I also found that when Americans were apprised of the facts, most people became supporters of responsible oil and gas drilling in Alaska. So, I want to remind our national leaders of this promise, and to make the case against this legislation that would permanently take off the table any consideration of responsible ANWR drilling," said Palin.

The governor made the following points in her prepared statement:

  • Oil from ANWR represents a huge, secure domestic supply that could help satisfy U.S. demand for more than 25 years.
  • ANWR sits within a 20 million acre refuge (the size of South Carolina) but thanks to advanced technology like directional drilling, the aggregated drilling footprint would be less than 2,000 acres (about one-quarter the size of Dulles Airport). This is like laying a two-by-three-foot welcome mat on a basketball court.
  • Energy development is quite compatible with the protection of our wildlife and their habitat. For example, North Slope caribou herds have grown and remained healthy throughout more than three decades of our oil development. Most of the year, our coastal plain is frozen solid and thus characterized by low biological productivity.
  • ANWR development would create hundreds of thousands of good American jobs, positively affecting every state by providing a safe energy supply and generating demand for goods and services.
  • Development here would reduce U.S. dependence on unstable, dangerous sources of energy such as the Middle East, and would decrease our huge trade deficit, a large percentage of which is directly attributable to oil imports.
  • Incremental ANWR production would help reduce energy price volatility. Previous price disruptions demonstrate how even relatively low levels of oil production influence world prices.
  • Federal revenues from ANWR ­ cash bids, leases, and oil taxes ­ would help reduce the multi-trillion dollar national debt, and we'd circulate U.S. petrodollars in our own country instead of continuing to send hundreds of billions of our dollars overseas, creating jobs and stronger economies in other countries.

The governor went on to say, "The development of oil and clean-burning natural gas isn't a panacea. However, this development should be authorized in comprehensive legislation that includes alternative fuels, fuel efficiency, and conservation."

Palin said, "Americans know that gasoline and other refined crude oil products will keep fueling our transportation system for the foreseeable future. Further, the soaring prices of food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and other products illustrate the importance of petroleum to the health and well-being of America."

"Another important reality is that the location and quantity of oil production are drastically changing world geopolitics. Energy-producing countries are rapidly gaining world power. Several of these countries have objectives and value systems that are antithetical to U.S. interests," said Palin.

The governor said, "Washington politicians should be horrified as we become increasingly dependent on these insecure, foreign sources while our U.S. petrodollars finance activities that harm America and our economic and military interests around the world."

"If we don't move now to enact a comprehensive energy policy that includes domestic oil and gas production ­ including ANWR - we will look back someday and regret that we failed to perceive a critical crossroads in the history of America. It's not overly dramatic to say our nation's future depends on the decisions made by the federal government over the next few months," said Palin.

"Polls show a majority of Americans now support responsible energy development in Alaska. Unfortunately, some disingenuous special interest groups are still fighting the public will in Congress," said Plain.

United Staes Senator Lisa Murkowski has successfully opposed similar legislation in the past and, as the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a prepared statement that she will continue to fight efforts to permanently take ANWR off the table.

Murkowski (R-Alaska) said, "Given that we were at record oil prices only a few months ago, it makes no sense to deny Americans access to lower-cost energy by permanently locking up North America's largest potential source of oil and gas,"

Murkowski said, "I'm confident that through the use of modern drilling technology we can develop our natural resources, including ANWR, without harming the environment. Developing ANWR offers an opportunity to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and improve our national security."

"Taking ANWR permanently off the table at a time of volatile energy prices and economic hardship is simply not wise public policy," said Murkowski.

The governor said, "Americans, please contact Congress and ask that all options stay on the table as we formulate our needed energy plan. Remind politicians about their promises to increase domestic oil and gas production."

The wilderness legislation was recently introduced in both chambers of Congress.


Sources of News:

Office of Sen. Joe Lieberman

Office of the Governor

Office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski


E-mail your news & photos to

Publish A Letter in SitNews         Read Letters/Opinions

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2009
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska