Alaska Delegation Applauds President’s Call to Open ANWR

Delegation Encourages Alaskans to Demand Congress Consider ANWR Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Alaska’s Congressional Delegation -- Senator Ted Stevens, Senator Lisa Murkowski, and Congressman Young -- today praised President George W. Bush for calling on Congress to open ANWR.

President Bush told reporters that the answer to high gas prices is more domestic production, an argument the Congressional Delegation has advanced for years.

“One of the main reasons for high gas prices is that global oil production is not keeping up with growing demand,” said President Bush in a press conference at the White House. “Members of Congress have been vocal about foreign governments increasing their oil production, yet Congress has been just as vocal in opposition to efforts to expand our production here at home. They've repeatedly blocked environmentally safe exploration in ANWR. The Department of Energy estimates that ANWR could allow America to produce about a million additional barrels of oil every day, which translates to about 27 millions of gallons -- gallons of gasoline and diesel every day. That would be about a 20 percent increase of oil -- crude oil production over U.S. levels, and it would likely mean lower gas prices. And yet such efforts to explore in ANWR have been consistently blocked.”

Democrats in Congress have repeatedly used procedural tactics to block any attempt to pass ANWR legislation. In 1995, Congress passed a bill to open ANWR to oil and gas exploration, but President Clinton vetoed it.

“The President’s message today was right on target. It’s time for Congress to put aside partisan politics and pass a bill to open ANWR,” said Senator Stevens. “With oil at $120 a barrel and gasoline at more than $5 a gallon in parts of Alaska, financially strapped families are demanding a new U.S. energy policy. We must make a stand against those fringe groups that continue to oppose any oil and gas development in our state. Now is the time for Congress to act.”

“I applaud the President’s call to open ANWR,” said Senator Murkowski. “Opening ANWR signals that Americans are finally serious about helping ourselves. The high cost of energy is simply unacceptable when we have the ability to produce more oil without any harm to the environment. We owe it to all Americans struggling to budget in increased energy costs to move forward with oil and gas exploration in ANWR.”

“If President Clinton had not vetoed ANWR when it passed out of both the House and Senate in 1995, an additional one million barrels of oil per day would be flowing today to help alleviate some of the pain at the pump,” said Rep. Young. “ANWR is nearly 20 million acres and home to an estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil. Energy production would be limited to only 2000 acres – 0.01 percent of the entire refuge. The remaining 99.99 percent of ANWR would remain off-limits to development. We are now getting over 66 percent of our energy from overseas! Our country does not lack energy. It is overflowing with energy resources. We lack the will to develop and produce it. We have the world at our fingertips when it comes to domestic resources and instead we choose to politicize everything. With energy prices and our dependence on hostile foreign nations at record highs, maybe now we will finally wake up and start producing our energy and keeping our jobs at home, right where they should be.”