Alaska governor urges House to vote Wednesday for ANWR development
Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles has urged the 435 members of the US House of Representatives to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development. The House is expected to consider a bill Wednesday that proposes leasing of the region in northeastern Alaska.
By the OGJ Online Staff
HOUSTON, July 31 -- Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles has urged the 435 members of the US House of Representatives to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development.
Knowles wrote the legislators, "On Wednesday, you will cast a vote critical to a well-balanced national energy policy. Declining oil production on the North Slope of Alaska is a key factor in America's decreasing domestic oil supply. The best prospect for replacing this production is the oil believed to lie beneath a small portion of ANWR -- up to 16 billion bbl of recoverable oil."
He said ANWR oil development would strengthen the national economy by creating up to 735,000 jobs nationwide and generating billions of federal dollars through increased tax revenues and lease-sale receipts. He said the bulk of these jobs would be in the factories, refineries, and high-tech industries in the continental US.
"Alaskans understand the importance of treating our land with care and respect. The more than 20 years experience on Alaska's North Slope provides strong evidence that oil development at nearby ANWR poses little threat to the coastal plain's ecology. The Central Arctic Caribou Herd occupying the Prudhoe Bay area has grown steadily from a population of 6,000 in 1978, the year after North Slope oil production began, to over 27,000 today. The Inupiat people of the North Slope who depend on the caribou for subsistence are among the strongest supporters of coastal plain oil development."
Knowles noted that the US Department of the Interior estimates that the footprint of oil activities will affect less than a tenth of 1% of the entire refuge. He said advances in technology, such as directional drilling, reduce this footprint by allowing wellheads to be tightly clustered.
Knowles wrote the House members, "I urge you to be guided by the substance of the issue rather than the symbolism associated with ANWR. In doing so, I believe you will conclude, as I have, that environmentally responsible development of ANWR is an essential component of a balanced national energy policy which also includes conservation, alternative fuels, and fuel efficiency."