Anchorage Daily News: Murkowski on oil spill in the Gulf: "Tragedy on many levels"

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Coast Guard officials are at the White House now, giving a briefing on the government and industry response to the widening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from British Petroleum's offshore oil rig, Deepwater Horizon. The incident is one "of national significance," Napolitano said. The spillage threatens to dwarf the amount of oil leaked by the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, Coast Guard commandant Adm. Thad Allen told the Miami Herald.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, released a a statement on the response. Murkowski is the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the panel is expected to hold a hearing May 6 take a look at offshore oil and natural gas development. Although the focus was intended to be on the Interior Department's five-year plan for offshore drilling, it's expected to focus on the accident in the Gulf and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is scheduled to testify.

"As we look to expand exploration off our nation's coasts, it's critical that we take every possible precaution to guard against similar accidents," Murkowski said. "It's imperative that we find out everything we can about what went wrong on the Horizon."

"This is a tragedy on many levels. My thoughts and prayers remain with the families of the 11 lost workers," Murkowski said. "I fully understand that it could take months before we have all of the answers about what happened, but it's important that we start asking the hard questions now."

"Deepwater exploration, which continues to expand the reach of drilling technology in the Gulf of Mexico, has become critical to our nation's energy supply. Because we depend on these domestic resources, it's our responsibility to ensure that they are produced as safely as possible," Murkowski said.

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Source: By Erika Bolstad. Originally published April 29, 2010