Alaska Gov. Knowles says votes insufficient for ANWR leasing bill

Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles said Wednesday that there's not enough congressional support to pass legislation allowing development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) coastal plain. President George W. Bush plans to make ANWR leasing a keystone of his forthcoming energy policy.


By Ann de Rouffignac
OGJ Online

HOUSTON, Feb. 15�Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles said Wednesday that there's not enough congressional support to pass legislation allowing development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) coastal plain.

US President George W. Bush plans to make to make ANWR leasing a keystone of his forthcoming energy policy, and Knowles agreed it should be. The governor said three things changed recently that will impact the fate of ANWR exploration and "two are positive and one is negative."

Knowles, making an unscheduled talk at the Cambridge Energy Research Associates energy conference in Houston, said the election of President Bush was positive because Bush is committed to pursue ANWR development. Also, Bush named Vice-President Dick Cheney, an oil industry veteran, to head his energy task force.

�The negative �I don�t think there are the votes in Congress now to get it through,� Knowles said.

The governor said ANWR can be developed in a way that protects the environment and the fish and wildlife that depend on it.

�Oil production in ANWR and protection of the refuge are not mutually exclusive,� he said. �We can extract the oil that our nation needs while preserving the arctic environment.�

Besides ANWR, Knowles was touting plans to build a pipeline to carry almost 4 bcfd of arctic gas to the Lower 48 states. He said the North Slope has 30 tcf of reserves.

�Help is on the way,� he said. �It�s time to send that gas down.�

Alaska is promoting a pipeline route along the Alaska Highway that would connect to existing gas pipelines near Edmonton, Alta.

Knowles said there is consensus for that route among environmental, political, and labor interests in Alaska. Canada approved the route many years ago, although some interests in Canada now want a route that taps Mackenzie River Valley reserves.

Knowles reiterated that the energy industry is welcome in Alaska and even thanked oil and gas companies by name for developing oil and gas in his state. He noted that producers pay the state a 12.5% royalty.

�We need the resources. We will gain if producers come to Alaska,� he said. �Alaska is open and ready for business.�

He said Alaska has a stable and transparent tax policy. It restructures ineffective leases and permits area wide leasing of state lands.

�Alaska will offer 16 more of these area wide leases in the next 5 years,� he said.

Knowles outlined the basic elements of his business and economic policy.

� Market mandate. There is a clear need to attract capital. The market must be allowed to work to send the proper incentives.

� Environmental imperative. There is no conflict between environment and development. There is no reason to not have both.

� Land access. Access to federal lands is important to keep gas flowing. But access does not mean destruction of the environment.

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