Governor Palin Says House Letter to President Obama Ignores U.S. Energy Imperatives
Governor Sarah Palin today expressed concern that 67 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives have ignored the imperative of American energy security by recommending to President Obama that virtually all oil and gas development be suspended in the Arctic pending further studies. In their letter, the congressmen recommended statutory wilderness for the coastal plain of ANWR, suspension of oil and gas exploration and leasing in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, additional closures to oil and gas development in the National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska, and an overly cautious approach that would prohibit most industrial activities, pending further studies and the recommendations of an interagency task force. "These recommendations are based on a false premise that could lead to bad public policy, Governor Palin said. "Industrial development in the Arctic is not out of control. In fact, oil and gas development and other activities are subject to in-depth analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act, a stringent permitting process, and close oversight by state and federal officials. In other words, the opportunity for public comment and agency analysis already exists without creating additional bureaucracy and governmental control." The governor said that Alaska, which is America's Arctic, has every incentive to make sure that development is done right. Regarding the recommendations themselves, the governor said that they would permanently foreclose oil and gas development in the coastal plain of ANWR, which is the most promising unexplored petroleum province in North America, with the tremendous potential to provide a secure source of domestic production for decades to come. Further, the recommendations would prohibit oil and gas development in large parts of the NPR-A, which was originally set aside by Congress to further such development and where off-limits areas have already been established. Regarding the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, there have been successful oil and gas lease sales in the past. Not only do the House members want to foreclose future leasing activity, they would even suspend exploration and other activities on existing leases pending further studies. This could raise significant issues of financial liability for the federal government. Governor Palin pointed out that every instance of commercial development in the Arctic is preceded by extensive studies.
"So the recommendation for further studies and an independent task force becomes an excuse to keep anything from happening until sometime in the indefinite future," she said. "We are all concerned about climate change and its effects, but the people of Alaska and the nation have the ingenuity to address these issues as prudent development occurs." The governor said that as the residents of Alaska's North Slope were mentioned in the letter, it is worth noting that a large majority of these residents support on-shore oil and gas development, including the coastal plain of ANWR, because they recognize on the basis of 30 years of first-hand experience that development can be done safely and that revenues from such development help fuel the local economy. The governor went on to point out that the suggestions in the letter mirror exactly the recommendations made by 29 national environmental groups in an earlier report entitled "Transition to Green." So she questioned whether the letter represents special interest politics as usual or the independent assessment of each member of the House who signed it. The governor said that Main Street seems to understand the implications of foreclosing oil and gas development in America's Arctic better than some of their representatives in Congress.
"Where were these members when the price of oil was $147 per barrel?" she asked. "Are we so shortsighted as to be lulled by the current price of oil, forgetting altogether what happens to the U.S. economy when prices rise or supply disruptions occur?
"We all support the development of alternative sources of energy, but the need to develop secure supplies of oil and clean-burning natural gas will be with us for decades to come." The governor concluded by expressing hope that the Obama administration would not be influenced by the 67 House members but would examine the facts for itself in determining what's best for the vast majority of the American people. "Alaskans who live in the Arctic know we can do it right and that we will if given half the chance."