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Alaska Democrats Push Federal Bureaucrats to Allow NPR-A Oil Development

Bridge permit only roadblock to much needed new development

JUNEAU – Today, fourteen Democratic members of the Alaska Legislature called on the Obama Administration to resolve permit issues that are delaying ConocoPhillips’ efforts to develop a new oil field in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPR-A). Last year, the Army Corps of Engineers rejected Conoco’s permit application to build a bridge across the Coleville River that the company needs to access the new field just west of its Alpine oil field, the third largest in Alaska.

“America and Alaska need this oil, and all Conoco needs is a bridge to develop it,” said Representative Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). “If there’s a problem with the permit, we need it fixed quickly. I look forward to speaking with the decision-makers in Washington this week to help resolve this.”

In a letter addressed to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, the legislators describe how accessing oil reservoirs in the NPR-A has bi-partisan support in Alaska and is crucial to keeping the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System operating for the long term. The letter states, “We hope to convey that this is an issue of bi-partisan, economic urgency to Alaskans.”

“We’re encouraged Conoco wants to develop one of the largest known reserves open to Alaska development, and that the current tax system has helped promote that decision,” said Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) who has often pointed to the need to develop the NPR-A. “We want this development to move forward, and hope we'll get a fair response from the federal government.”

Senators Johnny Ellis, Bill Wielechowski and Hollis French (all D – Anchorage) also signed the letter.

“This is a critical issue for Alaska’s future. The pipeline is the backbone of Alaska’s economy and moving forward on this project could supply jobs, help fill the pipeline and provide energy security for our country,” said Sen. Wielechowski.

“If we can’t look for oil in the National Petroleum Reserve, then where can we look for it?” asked Sen. French.

The letter is posted at: http://www.akdemocrats.org/docs/022411_LTR_re_CD5.pdf

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