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Begich Outlines Alaska Priorities for Energy Bill


Incentives for natural gas, revenue sharing for Alaska on the list

March 24, 2010 -- In an effort to make sure Alaska's needs and priorities are addressed as Congress moves forward on an energy bill, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today sent a letter to the Senate majority leader stating none of the current proposals on the table sufficiently address Alaska's unique situation.

In the letter to Sen. Harry Reid, Begich says while Alaska is ground zero for climate change, Alaskans already pay the highest costs for energy in the nation.

"It will benefit no Alaskan to slow the advance of climate change's effects if no one can afford to rebuild their eroding village, meet a payroll or heat their home," Begich writes.

Begich said he is sending the letter now to make sure Alaska's agenda isn't missed by Congress.

"An energy plan can do a lot for our country, including reducing our dependence on foreign oil and creating new jobs, but we've got to get the balance right for Alaska," Begich said.

Begich's letter reviews some of Alaska's 50-year history as a state, including the understanding that at the time of Statehood, all parties understood Alaska would rely on natural resource and energy development and would need a generous share of revenue from development on federal lands.

The letter outlines Alaska's priorities for any energy/climate change legislation including:

·         Natural Gas - Expanded incentives for clean burning natural gas from Alaska and help to deliver it to market;

·         Revenue Sharing - A mechanism for ensuring offshore oil and gas development revenue sharing with the State of Alaska and Alaska coastal communities and tribes as a result of development in federal waters off the Arctic coast;

·         Adaptation Funding - Dedicated funding to assist Alaska communities on the front line of climate change with the costs of village relocation, infrastructure rebuilding and energy costs;

·         Arctic and Climate Research - Increased funding for federal agencies charged with managing the Arctic (such as NOAA and the Coast Guard), while also recognizing the strategic importance of Arctic assets and the need for international leadership in the area.

"Although Alaska's economy is diversifying, much of our economy still depends on natural resource development and the revenues from it that fund over 85 percent of our state budget," Begich said. "I bring this history to your attention to help you appreciate the context in which many Alaskans view legislation that would affect our resource-reliant economy."
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