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Begich Tells Oil Executives More U.S. Energy Production Needed, Not Political Fixes


Alaska Senator Address Nation’s Top Oil Company Officials

Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration should encourage America’s oil and gas industry to increase domestic production to enhance the nation’s energy security rather than punishing the industry with increased taxes and further restrictions on leases.

That was U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s message to the top officials of the nation’s oil companies in a Washington, D.C., meeting this morning organized by the American Petroleum Institute.

Begich said with gasoline prices in America pushing $4 a gallon, now is the time to increase oil production from U.S. sources and lessen the country’s demand on uncertain foreign oil. He said singling out the nation’s oil and gas industry for punitive tax increases and imposing “use it or lose it” penalties on oil and gas leases is short-sighted and counter-productive.

“The answer to skyrocketing prices at the gas pump is to increase domestic oil and gas production, not impose short-sighted punishments on oil companies,” Begich said. “With world oil prices over $100 a barrel, now’s the time to develop a comprehensive national energy policy instead of spur-of-the-moment political solutions.”

Begich was invited to meet with top oil and gas executives to provide a rundown on likely legislative actions affecting the industry. The top officials from the following companies attended: ConocoPhillips, Exxon, Shell, BP, Marathon, Anadarko and Parker Drilling.

Begich said he opposes a proposal by the Obama administration and endorsed by many Senate Democrats to repeal several tax incentives designed to increase domestic oil and gas production. Changing the tax provisions could cost thousands of American jobs and actually increase gas prices for American consumers.

Another proposal by some Senate Democrats proposed earlier this week would penalize companies for failing to produce on leases on federal lands and under federal waters. Begich opposes the “use it or lose it” proposal and blamed federal bureaucrats for failing to produce timely permits to allow industry to produce on the leases. For example, both ConocoPhillips and Shell have seen promising oil prospects blocked by government obstruction in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and in the Beaufort Sea.

The Alaska senator said he is encouraging the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which he is a member, to hold a hearing on national energy security in light of the current unrest in the Middle East, which is pushing up world oil prices. He said the military projects its fuel costs will exceed budgets by $1 billion this year, further emphasizing the need for more energy production.

Begich also said natural gas will be America’s future preferred energy source because it is abundant and clean-burning. He said an Alaska natural gas pipeline can help meet America’s future energy needs.

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