September 06, 2003
A three-hour meeting was held between senior Murkowski administration personnel and community leaders from the Alaska Peninsula in Anchorage on Thursday to discuss timelines for oil and gas licensing and area-wide leasing, worker training, transportation projects and other related issues.
"The Governor wants the state to work with our rural areas in a way that meets the needs of local people," Clark said. "Leaders from the Alaska Peninsula approached the Governor with a clear vision of how they wanted economic development to happen and how they did not want it to happen. The purpose of yesterday's meeting was to make sure we were proceeding with oil and gas licensing and leasing on the Alaska Peninsula in a way that makes sense to local leaders."
The meeting included presentations by the Department of Natural Resources' division of oil and gas, the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, the Department of Community & Economic Development, and the Department of Labor & Workforce Development. Participating were fifteen representatives from several Peninsula organizations, including the Bristol Bay Native Corporation, the major private landowner in the area, which would partner with the State of Alaska on exploration licensing and development opportunities, as well as the Lake & Peninsula Borough, and Bristol Bay Borough.
"We established several mini-task forces to address specific aspects of this effort," Clark said. "We expect to have reports back from them at our next meeting. The subjects being addressed by the mini-task forces include how best to move forward with oil and gas licensing and area-wide leasing, consistent with the needs of the people of the area; vocational training for local residents who want to work in the construction and the oil and gas industries; and the transportation inter-relationships between the airport, harbor and road upgrades (or construction) that will be needed to support community development.
"I truly appreciate the leadership of the local residents, their councils and corporations, in advancing the goals of Alaska Peninsula residents. As Governor Murkowski has noted, this area has the potential to produce significant quantities of oil and gas. Our objective is to get shallow gas first, so it can be used to reduce energy costs to residents of the Alaska Peninsula. We are working with DNR to find ways we can shorten the timeline and get new, less costly energy into the homes and businesses of Bristol Bay as soon as possible. Among other thing, this will make the Bristol Bay fishing industry more viable."
Clark said the administration would begin holding public hearings on the oil and gas leasing proposals throughout the region this fall, after the fishing and hunting seasons are over.
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