Republican Energy Forum Supports OCS, Oil Shale and Nuclear Development

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens today renewed their calls for opening the Arctic coastal plan to oil and gas development as one means to increase domestic fuel production to help drive down energy prices.

Murkowski, who chaired a Republican Senate Conference Energy Forum on high fuel prices and their effects on American consumers, and Stevens, who testified at the forum, both argued that opening part of ANWR’s coastal plain is a vital part of any balanced energy plan for the nation.

“We all know we need to expand energy production through renewable and alternative energy sources. We know we need to promote greater energy efficiency and energy conservation. What some in this body seem unwilling to let happen, is for America to also take steps to promote more domestic energy production,” said Senator Murkowski in her opening statement at the forum, where eight Republicans Senators heard witnesses discuss how current technology allows development of additional natural gas, oil shale, coal fuels and nuclear power without harm to America’s environment.

“Opening a tiny portion of the Arctic coastal plain to oil development, plus providing states incentives through Outer Continental Shelf revenue sharing, and lifting the moratorium against oil shale development in the American West, could produce 24 billion barrels of oil and 100 trillion cubic feet of additional natural gas by next decade – enough fuel to power the entire nation for five years. And it would send a signal to markets that Americans have finally had enough, that we have had enough of spending $1.2 billion a day overseas to buy energy that we won’t produce ourselves – accounting for the greatest wealth transfer in world history,” said Senator Murkowski.

Stevens, who noted the history of efforts to open the coastal plain to oil development, said that opening ANWR would be a boon to America’s national security by supplying a stable fuel supply needed by the U.S. military.

"Developing Alaska’s vast energy resources represents the best opportunity for our nation to move away from energy supplied by unstable foreign governments and reinvest money in our own economy," said Senator Stevens. "I cannot overstate the urgency for Americans to recognize that the solution to our energy crisis is right here at home."

The forum, coming days after the Congress and today the Administration suspended fuel deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to free up U.S. royalty oil for sale on the open market, produced several ideas to further help drive down high fuel costs by increasing fuel supplies. Sen. John Warner, R-Va., urged the President to direct all federal agencies to immediately cut their fuel consumption, perhaps by 5 percent, to promote conservation and help drive down oil prices.

And Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, announced he would be asking the Energy Information Administration to update their estimates for the amount of oil that could be produced at current prices from ANWR’s coastal plain. Domenici said the current estimates, crafted when oil was a fifth of its current level, likely understates the impact that opening ANWR would have on energy security and on prices.

Murkowski at the forum argued that ANWR can be opened without environmental harm, and that oil shale, natural gas from OCS areas, coal fuels and new nuclear power, are all possible without environmental damage given the new technology that has been developed in recent years. “We have to stop selling America short as to our ability to develop technology that can protect our environment,” she said.