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Alaska Journal of Commerce - Stevens Says State Must Invest More Money in Energy

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Alaska Journal of Commerce - Stevens Says State Must Invest More Money in Energy

By Margaret Bauman

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, says Alaska needs to change its attitude toward development of renewable energy resources, by considering money spent on such efforts an investment rather than a raid of savings.

"We literally have more (energy) potential than all the rest of the country put together," Stevens told the Alaska Journal of Commerce's editorial board Aug. 13. "We have enormous amounts of each form of potential energy. The difficulty is getting the public to accept the fact that there is a difference between spending and investment."

Stevens noted that the state has reaped billions of dollars in revenue from oil and gas development within the state, with a great deal of those funds placed in the Alaska permanent fund and held in reserve.

"There is a general reluctance of the people here in office to invest it," he said. "We have not accepted the difference between savings and investment."

Stevens was traveling in Alaska during the August recess of Congress, meeting with constituents and campaigning for re-election in November.

The Alaska Republican is facing a tough battle for re-election in November, and an upcoming trial on charges that include allegations that he did not report substantial gifts.

Stevens said the campaign is going well, and that while a lot of people are asking questions about the court case, they are generally willing to wait it out.

"I feel I have good support wherever I go," he said.

Stevens defended his support of offshore exploration for oil and gas, and exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, saying funds reaped by the state from such ventures could be dedicated to the development of additional energy resources, including coalbed methane, which is in abundance in Southcentral Alaska, the North Slope and other areas of the state.

"We have never produced it, and people look at (development of) it as spending. It would only take $10 million for that first well, I don't look at it as spending at all. I look at it as investment," he said.

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