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Begich Presses Obama on OCS Development Plan

Asks president for timeline for moving forward on production

Saying delay is causing irreparable harm to Alaska's economy and its oil and gas industry, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is calling on President Obama to establish a reasonable timeline to give the green light for developing the enormous oil and gas resources in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) off Alaska's Arctic coast.

In a letter today to the President, Begich says the moratorium imposed on Gulf of Mexico drilling implemented after the Deepwater Horizon spill has stalled development plans in Alaska's Chukchi and Beaufort seas and industry has no certainty about when it will be permitted to proceed with development.

"The simple fact is timelines for development in the Arctic are by nature long," Begich wrote. "Adding unnecessary delay costs Alaskans jobs and our nation a proven and responsible source of energy."

Begich points out that Alaska's OCS holds 24 billion barrels of oil and 100 trillion cubic feet of clean-burning natural gas which can safely supply a significant portion of America's energy needs. Under the best case scenarios for the development of renewable resource technologies, Begich says, the U.S. will consume billions of barrels of oil over the coming years and our utilities increasingly require clean-burning natural gas.

"Mr. President, my fellow Alaskans and I stand ready to begin the hard work of responsibly developing these oil and gas resources and providing them to our fellow Americans," the letter states. "What we need is a willing, engaged federal partner and a realistic timetable or plan of action. We need your action and direction now."

The senator notes that federal leases last only 10 years, which is a relatively short period when Alaska's short drilling seasons are considered. He said he had to intervene with federal agencies just to help get federal approval for modest seismic activity five years after the lease purchase. Delays to Shell's Arctic development plans have cost more than $100 million and the loss of some 600 jobs.

Begich said he has introduced numerous bills in the Senate designed to prevent oil spills, quickly respond to them if one occurs and better prepare the Far North for development.

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