April 12, 2006
"I firmly believe that Alaska can play a significant role in meeting future U.S. energy supply needs," said Murkowski. "Alaska can contribute to increasing domestic gas production, diversifying the nation's supplies of oil and gas and providing important energy supplies near critical west coast markets. As we look to the potential of our federal offshore waters to help supply those needs, I am encouraged by this proposed lease sale program."
The governor specifically noted support for the proposed leasing programs in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and encouraged MMS and industry to continue to work with the North Slope Borough, whaling organizations and Native communities to ensure that activities are conducted in a manner compatible with subsistence whaling. The governor also endorsed the draft proposed plan's option 1 for the Cook Inlet planning area, which calls for two special interest sales in 2009 and 2011 in the program area.
The OCS North Aleutian Basin planning area is currently subject to a Presidential Withdrawal from leasing through June 2012. In his comments, the governor noted the tremendous community support for the successful Alaska Peninsula lease sale the state held in October 2005. The governor also indicated that based on the comments he has reviewed, there is widespread local support for opening leasing in the region, but that support is directed primarily to one specific planning area included in Lease Sale 92 held in 1985.
"Earlier this month the Aleutians East Borough Assembly voted to formally support oil and gas development in a small portion of the North Aleutian Basin - a condensed area located alongside our coast," said Aleutians East Borough Mayor Stanley Mack. "We did so because we feel confident that environmentally responsible development can co-exist with fishing. With that said, the borough will be actively involved every step of the way to ensure that our fisheries and our communities remain protected and don't suffer any adverse impacts."
Based on local input, Murkowski recommended that lease sales in the North Aleutian Basin planning area be included in the proposed five-year program but limited to the Sale 92 area in order to minimize potential impacts to fisheries. The governor also asked that the Presidential Withdrawal be lifted from the North Aleutian Basin planning area conditioned upon the lease sales being limited to the Sale 92 portion of the basin.
"Any lease sale activities in this area must be done with stakeholder consultation and must minimize conflicts with fishing activities and minimize negative impacts to our fish and wildlife resources," said Murkowski. "I believe we can protect those important resources and have a strong economy in the region. Oil and gas development can play an important role in that economy in the future."
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