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U.S. Senate Vote Includes ANWR in Budget Resolution
Governor is heartened by significant step forward


March 16, 2005

The United States Senate affirmed its majority support for opening the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration and development by turning away a Democratic amendment to block the proposal. The vote on Wednesday was 49-51 against the amendment and it came amid Senate work on the budget resolution.

The proposal to open the Coastal Plain to oil and gas development will lead to increased job opportunities for Alaskans and a lessening of dependence on foreign oil, Governor Frank H. Murkowski said. The Senate budget resolution is the first, but crucial, step in the process of forming a budget reconciliation package. The Senate Energy Committee will now develop ANWR legislation for inclusion in the Senate version of budget reconciliation. The full budget reconciliation package must go to the Senate for a vote prior to going to conference, but the budget reconciliation package is not subject to a filibuster. The House and Senate will then meet in conference to develop a package for signature by the President.

"This is one step forward, but a significant step, in finally opening ANWR to oil exploration and development," said Murkowski. "Americans should feel confident that we can protect the environment, through the best technology in the world, while taking steps to secure our nation's energy supply."

The governor credited Senators Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski with leading the fight in the Senate on behalf of Alaskans and thanked Congressman Don Young for his hard work on ANWR in the House of Representatives. Gov. Murkowski has also testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on opening the 1002 area to development, conducted numerous media interviews and worked closely with members of Congress and the Bush administration in an effort to help win passage of the proposal this session.

"Senator Stevens has been a champion of ANWR development for decades," said the governor. "With his leadership and 25 year commitment to this issue, and with the hard work of Senator Murkowski, we are much closer to seeing the promise of ANWR realized - and the promise of good jobs and a brighter future for Alaska and the nation."

The governor also thanked Senate Democrats who voted against the amendment to block ANWR, because their support will help to ensure a safe, stable energy supply for the nation.

The governor noted that in 1995 ANWR passed both the House and Senate through the budget reconciliation process, but was vetoed by then President Clinton. "Alaskans are fortunate today to have a Republican majority in both bodies and a Republican President who supports ANWR," said Murkowski. "We are more optimistic than ever that Alaska and the nation will finally benefit from ANWR development."

Opening a portion of ANWR to development is expected to reduce U.S. dependence on unstable sources of foreign oil such as the Middle East and OPEC countries, help reduce price volatility and provide a potential new source of natural gas.

According to the Governor, the proposal has overwhelming support in Alaska, including the support of North Slope Inupiat people who live along the Coastal Plain and recent polls show it also enjoys a majority support among Americans.

Exhaustive studies and previous practical experience in arctic regions shows that exploration can be done without adversely affecting fish and wildlife such as the central arctic caribou herd, which is thriving in the Prudhoe Bay area according to a news release from the Office of the Governor.

The release stated that modern technology also allows the area to be explored with minimal impact, affecting less than 2,000 acres of the 1.5 million-acre Coastal Plain. Exploring for oil in Alaska also assures that higher environmental standards are maintained than those found in many foreign nations.


Source of News:

Office of the Governor
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