WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens today joined the Senate Republican Leadership in introducing broad-ranging legislation that aims to drive down record high oil and gas prices by increasing domestic energy supplies.

The American Energy Production Act of 2008 addresses America’s soaring gasoline prices by focusing on solutions that will increase domestic oil and gas production now and in the future. The bill contains a provision to open Alaskan’s Arctic Coastal Plain to environmentally-sensitive oil and gas development, including no more than 2,000 acres of physical disturbance to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The legislation also provides for increased oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf, provides for federal revenue sharing with states for permit leasing and encourages environmentally sensitive coal to liquid development. The bill will produce up to 24 billion barrels of new oil in America.

“Our country has the resources to produce more oil and gas,” said Senator Murkowski. “We just need the policies that will allow us to develop those resources. We have the technology to not only safeguard the environment while developing resources, but also safeguarding Americans’ bank accounts at a time when they are struggling to meet rising energy costs.”

“This bill succeeds by taking a comprehensive approach in providing both immediate and long-term relief for Americans who are struggling to pay skyrocketing energy prices,” said Senator Stevens. “We must continue to push for the development of alternative energy while recognizing the need to tap Alaska’s tremendous oil and gas resources. The answer to our nation’s energy crisis is in our own backyard.”

The legislation also suspends oil deposits into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for six months because of current high values of oil going into the reserve. The bill provides for OCS development by allowing a governor to petition to open OCS areas off of their state coast currently closed by moratoria to oil and gas development. Alaska, whose areas are not under moratoria at present, would be able to gain revenue sharing from production off its coast after about 10 years.

The bill encourages the production of diesel fuel and gasoline by granting EPA the authority to accept consolidated applications for permits needed to build, expand and operate refineries. Financial aid is also authorized for states, Indian tribes and Native groups for hiring personnel to process refinery permits and sets a deadline of one year for permit reviews. These provisions will help stop the shortage of refined product helping to drive up the price of diesel and gasoline.

For more information on the American Energy Production Act click here.