by Gov. Frank H. Murkowski
March 18, 2005
Nancy and I felt a tremendous sense of hope following the U.S. Senate's ANWR action this week. Opening ANWR has been a dream for thousands of Alaskans and this week marked a significant and positive step forward. As I told state and national reporters, there is still work to be done, but we are hopeful that the coastal plain will be opened for oil and gas exploration and development. I want to take this opportunity to thank the entire Congressional Delegation for their hard work and leadership in getting the votes we needed. Their perseverance and commitment for a better Alaska are to be commended and recognized.
Opening ANWR means jobs and opportunities for our young people. Too many of Alaska's youths leave Alaska and raise families elsewhere. If opened, ANWR will provide thousands of good-paying jobs so that they can remain here and raise the next generation of Alaskans.
In Alaska, oil and gas jobs have an average salary of over $100,000 a year and are the cornerstone of our economy. Beyond the oil industry, thousands of new career opportunities for Alaskans will be created. The professional services sector, including lawyers, engineers, scientists, and the financial community would all benefit from expanded business activity. Mark Edwards, an economist with the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, has noted to me that the multiplier effect would indirectly improve other areas of the economy. As the state prospers, the general service sector would expand, creating more business in restaurants, entertainment, and retail sales. In addition, the North Slope Borough will receive added property tax revenues to fund local government services.
Naturally, we also anticipate Alaska's Permanent Fund will grow at a faster rate as the fund receives 25 percent of the state's oil royalties.
The positive impact of opening ANWR will touch every aspect of our economy. Alaskans know we can develop ANWR responsibly. Let's face it, we are not going to spoil the beauty of our state for a short-term gain. As I have said during my time in the Senate and as Governor, Alaska is a model for the rest of the world for responsible development. Alaska has the most modern technology and highest environmental oversight in the world. Our workers have to go through rigorous safety and environmental training. Our setting the standards high here in Alaska has resulted in many technological advances in environmentally friendly drilling. Optimizing these procedures here in Alaska allows this technology to be transferred to other locations around the world; in effect, lifting the bar for the entire world.
Opening ANWR will positively affect Americans. It will result in a decrease in national energy prices due to the new production and our reliance on foreign suppliers would be mitigated.
Many Alaskans have been fighting tirelessly for decades to promote ANWR, helping to educate Congress and the nation on the truth about ANWR development. In 1995, while I was chair of the Senate Energy Committee, the House and Senate voted to approve the opening of ANWR. Unfortunately, then-President Clinton vetoed this action. Today, the political landscape is brighter. We have a President who supports opening ANWR and who understands its importance to Alaskans and to the nation.
I look forward to the days ahead as we continue in an environment of hope, with a vision for Alaska that includes jobs for our young people and a vibrant economy.
Frank H. Murkowski
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