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Begich Opposes Further Wilderness Designation in ANWR


Annual appeal from lawmakers should be ignored, Begich says

U.S. Mark Begich today strongly criticized a letter sent by Sen. Joe Lieberman and several other senators asking President Obama to enact further wilderness protections in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).  Begich said at a time when the United States is importing more than 60 percent of its oil from foreign countries, now is the time to look at opening new areas to oil and gas exploration.

"This is another misguided attempt to lock up ANWR by Senator Lieberman and others who truly don't understand its potential to help bring national and economic security to our country," Begich said. "The vast majority of ANWR is already off limits to development, but Congress specifically set aside 1.5 million acres in the 1002 area for oil and gas exploration. It has enormous potential and should be part of a national energy plan for our country."

Begich said Lieberman and others routinely write letters or introduce legislation banning any oil and gas development in ANWR to appease environmentalists across the country. With advances in directional drilling, development can now be done with very little surface impact.

"We now know you can use directional drilling to extract oil and gas with virtually no surface disturbance. We should be discussing how to make that happen, and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, rather than writing more letters that paint ANWR as this last bastion of wilderness. I would invite all of these senators to come to Alaska and see first-hand how we do exploration correctly on the North Slope, the millions of acres already protected in ANWR, and the relatively small area of ANWR that would ever be touched for development."

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