November 16, 2009
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today thanked Pearce for her service to Alaska and the nation in working to make a North Slope natural gas pipeline project a reality.
"Drue has long been a strong advocate for the gas pipeline and her commitment will be difficult to match," Murkowski said. "I regret the loss of Drue's experience and knowledge on this project, but I understand that it's the president's prerogative to appoint the person of his choosing."
Pearce has a long record of service to Alaska, both as a state legislator and former state Senate President, and later as Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Alaska Affairs at the Department of the Interior. Murkowski has known Pearce since they served together in the Alaska State Legislature beginning in 1998.
Construction of a pipeline capable of delivering North Slope natural gas to markets in the Lower 48 has long been one of Alaska's top economic development goals. The project holds the promise of providing a long-term supply of affordable and clean natural gas to meet the nation's growing energy needs.
"The Alaska natural gas pipeline project is important to the economic and energy security of the nation," Murkowski said. "I've discussed this issue with the White House and I'm encouraged by the president's level of interest in seeing this project succeed."
Murkowski was pleased that Vice Admiral Thomas Barrett, USCG (Ret.) will be interim coordinator until a permanent replacement is named and noted she has the highest regard for Barrett's abilities.
U. S. Senator Mark Begich said in a prepared statement, "I commend and thank Drue for her many years of public service, both in the Alaska Legislature and as the first pipeline coordinator, and wish her the best in her next pursuits."
Begich said, "As a candidate and now as president, President Obama has always believed the Alaska natural gas pipeline is vital to meeting America's energy needs while ensuring our national energy security. The federal pipeline coordinator is designed to be an essential tool to kick-starting the project and moving its approval quickly through the federal regulatory process. "I commend President Obama for bringing new energy to this office and for his commitment to building an Alaska natural gas pipeline which will deliver affordable, clean-burning energy to America's homes and industries. I will continue to work with him on the selection of a new pipeline coordinator."
"Drue's resignation is a loss for Alaska," said Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) in a prepared statement. "She has been a great supporter of the natural gas pipeline and a wonderful advocate for Alaskan resources. While I understand that it is the President's right to appoint someone of his choosing, I am sorry that Drue will not be able to see this project through to completion. However, I appreciate the President's commitment to this project and I am confident he will appoint someone with as much dedication as she has shown over the past few years. It has been a pleasure working with Drue and I wish her the best of luck in the future."
The federal coordinator is responsible for coordinating the activities of federal agencies involved in the permitting and construction of a natural gas pipeline connecting Alaska's North Slope to markets in the Lower 48. The office of the coordinator is an independent office that reports directly to the White House.
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