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Begich Welcomes Salazar Plan to Study Beaufort and Chukchi Resources

Exploratory Drilling to Proceed this Summer on Some Leases

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich released the following statement after Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the Department of the Interior’s strategy for gathering environmental, ecological and technical information related to oil and gas development in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas:

“Secretary Salazar’s proposal to gather the scientific knowledge necessary to clear the way for future responsible development of Alaska’s Arctic oil and gas resources is welcome news. We need to know as much as we can about how to produce this energy for America while protecting the Arctic’s other resources, including the fish and wildlife harvested for subsistence. To his credit, Secretary Salazar’s proposal permits exploratory drilling to occur this summer in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas while this information is collected.

“I’ve talked with Secretary Salazar about Alaska’s enormous oil and gas potential and his announcement today reflects our conversations. I especially appreciate the Secretary’s calls for stronger community involvement, bridging any scientific gaps and exploration this summer.  These efforts mirror several pieces of the Inuvikput package of legislation I introduced last summer to encourage resource development in a changing Arctic. I also urge the Department of Interior to incorporate the wisdom of local residents, especially Native elders, in their data-collection process.

“All Americans need to have the confidence that we can responsibly develop these important oil and gas reserves.  The plan Secretary Salazar laid out today, as long as it doesn’t become a tool for extended delay, should be up to the task.”

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