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Begich Defends Liberty: Key Alaska Development Project

Letter supports Liberty project moving forward

Calling it an international model in state-of-the-art energy production technology, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today praised Alaska's "Liberty" project just west of Alaska's Prudhoe Bay oil fields and encouraged Congressional support for its continued development.

In a letter to Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Begich expresses disappointment in a June 24 New York Times story criticizing the development, saying the story was incomplete at best and seriously exaggerated at worst. Sen. Lautenberg sent a letter to federal regulatory officials based on the article asking the Liberty project be stopped.

"Although I very much share your frustration with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, halting a project important to my constituents which is still in the permitting process is premature and inappropriate," Begich writes.

The Liberty project will use existing gravel pads and causeways from the Endicott oil field, which has been safely producing oil since 1987. From the pad, built in just 4 to 10 feet of water, the company will use extended reach drilling to tap the Liberty Reservoir, eight miles away. The project is expected to produce an estimated 40,000 barrels of oil a day.

Begich points out in his letter the Liberty project is still months from actual drilling and has been the subject of some of the most intense government and public scrutiny of any oil development project in America. Further he states the project requires permitting by the North Slope Borough, the State of Alaska and federal government, and the plans have already been modified to accommodate the recommendations of public and private sector experts, including the Eskimo Whaling Commission.

In a description of how and where the Liberty project will be developed, Sen. Begich also says comparisons between the Liberty project and the tragic Gulf spill are simply inaccurate. He adds we must react to the Gulf spill sensibly to safeguard our economic prosperity and national security.

"I certainly welcome increased review and oversight of our nation's oil and gas industry, including in Alaska. But shutting down an environmentally responsible development project before it has even begun is short-signed and unacceptable to me and my constituents," Begich concludes.

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