October 23, 2003
Murkowski, in a Senate floor speech, said the two provisions would provide the greatest number of jobs to Americans thereby turning the energy bill into a true national jobs bill - a bill the nation needs given current unemployment rates.
"An energy policy that does not utilize our vast domestic energy reserves is not a comprehensive policy. We must provide for increased oil and gas production in order to meet the country's demand for energy. In my mind, that's very, very clear. But there's more to an energy policy than that. An energy policy can also create good paying jobs for all Americans, because I don't want a single man or women in America who is willing to work and looking for work to be locked out of finding a job.
"Americans can't enjoy the American dream without a job. It's just as simple as that. We've passed legislation to stimulate the economy. We've passed legislation to cut taxes. But our work isn't done until Americans have work," said Murkowski.
Noting that the national unemployment rate remains above 6 percent and that Alaska's and Washington State's unemployment rates are well above 7 percent, Murkowski noted a recent National Defense Council Foundation study that found that building a new natural gas line from Alaska to the Lower 48 states would create 1.07 million direct and indirect jobs nationwide. The study also found that opening part of the 1.5-million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's coastal plain would produce 1.14 million jobs nationwide -- 85 percent of the jobs in the Lower 48 states or Hawaii.
She noted that Washington State specifically would gain 139,089 jobs from the two projects.
"The study shows that more than 2.2 million new jobs would be created from ANWR and the Alaska natural gas pipeline. These projects not only would provide the energy that this country needs, but provide the jobs, the good-paying jobs, that this country needs. We can and we must take positive steps to create good-paying jobs for Americans, and nothing can do that better than through passage of a comprehensive energy bill," said Murkowski.
The Senator said she supports both the opening of ANWR to oil development and the crafting of incentives - financial "enablers" - to bring about construction of a gas pipeline to bring Alaska gas to market. She said she supports both, however, not just because it is good for Alaska and Alaskan workers, but because it is good for America. "It's the right thing to do because they will protect our energy security, our economic security, while creating good-paying jobs for all Americans," she said.
Murkowski argued on the Senate floor, both for increased oil development from just 2,000-acres of northern Alaska, and for passage of a financial package sufficient to permit construction to proceed on the more than 3,000-mile pipeline needed to bring Alaska gas to market. Conferees continue to discuss the financial incentives - tax incentives - needed to make it feasible for private enterprise to build the $20 billion pipeline project.
Negotiations over the tax provisions in the bill are expected to resume this afternoon with a final agreement likely to be unveiled no later than early next week.
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