Alaska's Congressional Delegation Vows to Defeat Anti-Development Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Alaska’s Congressional Delegation, Senator Ted Stevens, Senator Lisa Murkowski, and Congressman Don Young, today released the following statement in response to Senator Joe Lieberman’s (ID-Conn.) newly introduced bill to designate Alaska’s Coastal Plain as wilderness. “With the price of oil approaching $100 per barrel and with our energy dependence on hostile foreign nations at a record high, now is not the time to cut our country off from the resources held in Alaska’s Coastal Plain. This area has the largest untapped domestic oil field in the United States and would provide our nation with a million barrels of oil per day for at least three decades. Instead of blocking resource development, Congress must increase our domestic production of energy. “Alaska’s Delegation supports a comprehensive energy plan that includes conservation, increased efficiency standards, and greater renewable energy potential. But without increased production of traditional fossil fuels, like oil and natural gas, Americans will be even more dependent on unstable foreign energy sources. “We will fight any attempt to deny development of our State’s resources, particularly the Coastal Plain. Alaska already contains vast lands designated as wilderness, including the eight million acres of ANWR south of the Coastal Plain. Wilderness areas in Alaska already exceed 58 million acres. More importantly, more than 192 million acres of Alaska are already protected in wilderness areas, national parks, national preserves, national forests, national wildlife refuges, wild and scenic rivers, state parks, state preserves, state critical habitat areas, and state marine parks. The total designated area is the equivalent of all the East Coast seaboard states from Maine to mid-Florida. “ANWR is nearly 20 million acres. Energy production would be limited to 2,000 acres – 0.01 percent of the entire refuge. In addition, development poses no threat to wildlife. Anti-development advocates claim that the Prudhoe Bay oil fields have had serious impacts on wildlife. That is not true. After 30 years of development of oil fields at Prudhoe Bay and surrounding areas, wildlife have not been adversely impacted. Populations of caribou, grizzly bears, polar bears, arctic foxes, and musk ox have all remained stable or increased during oil exploration and development. “Our Delegation intends to work with the State of Alaska to defeat this short-sighted proposal. Once again, we have the duty of educating the rest of the country about Alaska’s role in attaining the goal of energy independence and defending our State from attacks by Outside extreme environmentalists.”