Today Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar concluded his multi-day visit to Alaska with U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Jack Reed and Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes. Secretary Salazar's visit, made at Senator Murkowski's invitation, focused on developing a commonsense path forward for safe and responsible development of Alaska's energy resources. Tuesday and Wednesday's itinerary included a visit to the North Slope for updates on energy exploration and development projects, followed by stops at Barrow's new Indian Health Service hospital and Denali National Park.
Salazar, Hayes, Murkowski, and Reed began Tuesday in the North Slope with an aerial tour of the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea coast to observe current and proposed oil and gas production sites, including Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve. Following the aerial tour, the delegation received updates on Conoco-Philips' proposed CD-5 project and Shell's proposed exploration activities for the Beaufort Sea.
"Alaska is blessed with natural resources and raw beauty that are unmatched," Salazar said. "This trip has been an invaluable opportunity to see and hear first-hand about the opportunities and challenges that come with energy development in this unique place. I am confident that, guided by science, innovation and the voices of the Alaska Natives and local communities, we can safely and responsibly harness Alaska's enormous energy potential while also protecting its land, water, and wildlife for future generations of Americans."
"Significantly increasing energy production in Alaska would provide incredible benefits to the entire country. We have tremendous reserves, the technological know-how, and strong public support," Murkowski said. "Additional development in Alaska would help address many of our most pressing challenges -- it would help us create tens of thousands of new jobs, generate hundreds of billions of dollars in new tax revenues, reduce our harmful dependence on foreign oil and improve our trade balance."
On Tuesday, Salazar, Hayes, Murkowski and Reed also visited Barrow where they toured an Indian Health Services (IHS)-funded hospital currently under construction and were briefed on efforts to address challenges associated with delivering quality health care to remote locations. When built, the two-story hospital will accommodate 10 inpatient beds, 15 outpatient exam rooms, 10 dental operatories and provide service to approximately 5,200 people throughout Alaska's North Slope region.
The delegation's final stop was a visit on Wednesday to Denali National Park and Preserve to discuss public access issues, youth employment opportunities, and sustainable energy opportunities in the remote sections of the park. The Secretary and Senators visited the Eielson Visitor Center and were briefed by National Park Service officials on the status of a proposed visitor center for South Denali, which was identified as the State of Alaska's priority project for the America's Great Outdoors program. While at the park, Secretary Salazar also heard from park officials about youth programs that help accomplish trail and other priority work and reconnect our young people to the great outdoors. In recognition of their contributions to Denali National Park, the Secretary and Senators made a special achievement presentation to the Student Conservation Association.
"Continued investment in Denali National Park will pay dividends by improving visitor experience, spurring economic opportunities and encouraging additional public-private partnerships to take root," added Secretary Salazar. "With visitation numbers steadily on the rise, Denali continues to be one of Alaska's most popular tourist attractions and a strong economic engine for the state."