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Begich Pleased President Supporting Arctic OCS Coordinator, Support for lease sales in National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today released the following statement praising plans announced by President Obama in his weekly address to increase domestic oil production.

Specifically, the president announced:

• Establishing a team to coordinate work on Alaska drilling permits - This is essentially Begich's Arctic OCS Coordinator legislation setting up a federal office to work across agencies to streamline permitting and encourage production in Alaska's Arctic waters;

• Directing the Department of the Interior to conduct annual lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve -Alaska (NPR-A); and

• Extending the term drilling leases in areas of the Gulf of Mexico that were subject to last summer's temporary moratorium, as well as those in the Beaufort Sea.

"For two-plus years I have been advocating for increased domestic oil and gas production taking advantage of Alaska's enormous energy potential to help improve our country's economic and national security.

"I consider the President's address today a positive step forward and a commitment that he is ready to put words into action. His decision to establish a team to coordinate work on Alaska drilling permits is excellent news for our state and is the essence of my Arctic OCS Coordinator legislation that would do just that.

"And the President's continued support for an annual lease program in the NPR-A is good news. However, to be meaningful, his administration will have to demonstrate a commitment to removing roadblocks preventing development at ConocoPhillips' stalled CD-5 project, just inside the reserve boundary.

"These steps will hopefully lead to expanded development in Alaska and long-term reduction in our dependence on foreign oil from unfriendly countries. However, Congress still must pass comprehensive energy and tax reform bills to bring some relief to families facing high gas prices today and in the future."

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