Revenue Sharing for Alaska & Opening ANWR
Questions Interior Secretary on Cuts to Funding for Alaska Environmental Programs
April 15, 2008
"I'm concerned that as we go forward with the Chukchi Sea development that Alaska has not received the same type of revenue sharing as other coastal states have," said Senator Stevens. "We have provided revenue sharing for Florida. We've got revenue sharing for Louisiana and Texas. And Alaska has two-thirds of the (outer) continental shelf of the United States and no development, primarily because there continues to be opposition since there's no funding that would come to the state from development off our shores. Can the Department change its position on revenue sharing? It seems to me if we had revenue sharing we'd have a greater support base from Alaskans for development off our shores."
Secretary Kempthorne agreed with the Senator's assertions.
"I think it's a sound concept which you have identified," Secretary Kempthorne said. "With the revenue sharing that currently takes place in the Gulf Coast, I think that continues to incentivize the states. As you know in the five year plan we've now included the state of Virginia. I think absent revenue sharing, I don't know if Virginia will pursue off-shore development, but with revenue sharing I think it does provide greater incentive.
Senator Stevens also was critical of the Bush Administration for not being more aggressive in supporting efforts to open ANWR to resource exploration and development.
"I am really worried about the basic problem of keeping up with the increased cost of energy in our state," said Senator Stevens. "You know, we pay substantially more than the rest of the United States, and yet we produce substantial amounts of oil and gas. I really wonder somehow if there isn't some way that we can make the country understand, and maybe some of the people at this table understand that the problem we have in the country is we continue to import so much oil. That's what's causing the price of gasoline to go up. There's no investment in the United States in domestic resources. I see the President has an item in the budget for proceeding with ANWR, but I really don't see much of a drive from the Administration to fulfill that item in the budget. How are we going to get the support we need for the development of alternative, renewable resources unless we have cash flow from our own resources?"
Secretary Kempthorne reaffirmed the Administration's support for opening ANWR but did not delineate specific actions it would take to support oil exploration in Alaska.
Later during Senator Stevens' question-and-answer session with Secretary Kempthorne, the Senator expressed concern about the Bush Administration's proposed funding reductions for marine mammal programs in Alaska. The Administration has proposed only $2.5 million for the Marine Mammals program for 2009, including a $500,000 decrease from last year's funding level. The President's budget request for the Fish & Wildlife Service altogether eliminates funding for walrus monitoring along the Chukchi Sea coast.
"I'm a little disturbed about the reduction in funding for the marine mammals program off our coast. For instance, there is a reduction in the monitoring of walrus off the Chukchi Sea coast, yet we have an enormous proposal out there to start producing oil and gas, which we support. But I don't know why we would reduce, actually eliminate, funding for the Pacific walrus," Senator Stevens said.
Citing a series of proposed funding levels for 2009, Senator Stevens also suggested that the Bush Administration change its formula on how Interior funding is allocated.
"From national parks, we have 51 of the 78 million acres (in the nation). Yet we get 2.4 percent of the budget," said Senator Stevens "We have 76 million acres, or 85 percent of the wildlife refuge lands, we get 8 percent of the budget.Why do we allocate the budget based on population instead of acreage?"
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