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McGuire Welcomes Interior Pledge to Affirm OCS Leasing Obligations Off the Alaska Coast

NEWS FOR RELEASE / Thursday, July 30, 2009

ANCHORAGE – Senate Energy Committee Chair Lesil McGuire today called on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to follow through quickly on his pledge to clarify federal policy on Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing off the coast of Alaska.

“Alaskans appreciate the Secretary’s official confirmation today that Interior will avoid delays in implementing balanced development of Alaska’s OCS resources,” said McGuire. The Anchorage Republican lawmaker also co-chairs the Senate Resources Committee.

The Interior Department announced that it is moving forward with a scheduled August 19 Gulf of Mexico lease sale. Quoting Salazar, the announcement added, “President Obama has made clear that a comprehensive energy plan that reduces America’s dependence on foreign oil must include domestic production and the court’s ruling allows us to move forward in a balanced way.”

“With respect to the Arctic Ocean and Alaska,” the secretary added, “we will continue to work expeditiously to address the environmental issues identified by the court in the existing 2007-2012 5-year plan.”

“This is a significant event in terms of energy policy that is balanced, fair and truly addresses reducing American dependence on foreign energy,” McGuire said. “There is some opposition to OCS development in Washington, D.C, but today’s formal announcement by Interior should be an affirmation of department and administration legal obligations.”

On April 17, 2009 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the entire 2007-2012 Outer Continental Shelf oil and natural gas leasing program, ruling that Bush Administration officials did not conduct sufficient scientific and environmental analysis before scheduling oil and gas lease sales on the Outer Continental Shelf off Alaska. The ruling came two years after lease sales had begun under the 2007-2012 OCS oil and natural gas leasing program.

On May 11, 2009 Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar asked the Department of Justice to seek clarification from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the scope of its decision.

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