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Senate Energy Committee Chair Welcomes President Obama’s Announcement on Plans for Alaska’s OCS


JUNEAU – Senator Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, welcomed President Barack Obama’s announcements yesterday on his plan for Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Region. Although federal waters near Bristol Bay will not be opened to drilling, existing leases will remain open in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

“I was happy to hear about the kept leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas but I hope more opportunities will arise in the future,” said Senator McGuire. “Alaska has huge oil and gas reserves but without the proper incentives and go-ahead, companies are reluctant to explore. This is an issue we are looking at very closely during the legislative session because we know how important oil and gas are to Alaska’s economy.

In April 2009, Senator McGuire testified before the Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar, at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage. She emphasized to him that developing Alaska’s resources will help reduce American dependence on foreign energy and OCS is integral in an energy policy that is balanced and fair.

“We, as state legislators, often feel very powerless when it comes to dealing with the Federal Government, so I was happy to hear that some of the concerns we voiced were considered by the President,” McGuire said. “The ability to develop Alaska’s offshore resources is imperative to our energy future.”

President Obama supports drilling on existing leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, but is cancelling planned lease sales in that region so the Federal Government can further study the impact on the environment and oil-spill risks. 

Senator Lesil McGuire is the chair of the Senate Energy Committee and co-chair of the Senate Resources Committee.
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