Republican News

WASHINGTON – Senator Frank H. Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator John Breaux (D-LA), and Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) today introduced the American Homeland Energy Security Act of 2002 as an amendment to the Senate energy bill. The amendment gives the Commander-In-Chief authority to safely explore for energy resources in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and includes several provisions designed to ensure the area remains protected. Scientists believe upwards of 16 billion barrels of technically recoverable American oil exist in the area. “America needs American oil from ANWR. Today, almost two-thirds of our oil is imported from overseas – much of it from the Middle East. With ANWR open, we could cast off Saudi Arabian imports for more than three decades or Iraqi imports for more than a half-century,” said Murkowski. “When we don’t control our energy supply, someone else does. As long as that continues, we remain vulnerable to the whims of Middle East rulers.” “We need only look back on the past month to understand the extent of the chaos and uncertainty that exists in the Middle East,” said Murkowski. “Iraq increased the reward to each Palestinian suicide bombers to $25,000 and imposed a 30 day oil embargo against us. With labor strikes cutting exports from Venezuela and the Iraqi embargo, nearly 30% of our imported oil is now in jeopardy. “Saddam Hussein has called on the Arab world to use oil as a weapon against the United States,” said Murkowski. “Are we going to defend ourselves?” Senator Breaux also expressed support of the ANWR amendment. “My own state of Louisiana has a 60-year track record of producing oil and gas in ecosystems far more fragile and sensitive than the desolate tundra of the coastal plain of Alaska,” said Breaux. “I have visited ANWR in the winter and summer, and I believe limited exploration on the coastal plain is consistent with protecting the environment because modern technology drilling and development are sensitive to both ecology and to local concerns. Energy development has the support of the people of Alaska and can be done, today, without damaging Alaska’s ecosystem.” “Under the plan, the Commander-In-Chief can authorize the safe exploration of ANWR when it’s determined to be in the interest of our national and economic security. Exploration would only be allowed if a long list of safety and environmental criteria are met. The plan we propose today includes sweeping environmental regulations, giving officials from the President all the way down to the local community, the responsibility to help ensure exploration is done safely. The total surface disturbance will not exceed 2,000 acres, the same size as five small family farms,” Murkowski said. “Oil exploration will only be allowed to proceed with the use of the most advanced, cutting edge technology the world has to offer and will be limited to the winter months to reduce impact on the environment,” said Murkowski. “Also, as they see fit, the Secretary of Interior and the local community may designate as much 45,000 acres as closed, special areas.” “The plan further renews our commitments to our ally Israel, ensuring that, if needed, American oil can help meet the energy needs of the Middle East’s only democracy.” “There are energy solutions within our borders free from the chaos of the Middle East. Now, more than ever, America must use American oil to meet our needs and help free us of our dangerous dependence,” Senator Murkowski said. “If not now, when? If not ANWR, where?” ### ANWR Presidential finding: ANWR will not be opened until the President certifies to Congress that the exploration, development, and production of the oil and gas resources in ANWR’s Coastal Plain are in the national economic & security interests of the United States. If the President certifies that ANWR’s Coastal Plain should be opened, the Secretary of the Interior will implement a leasing program, and the following will apply: - 2,000 acre: limitation on surface disturbance - Export ban: oil from the refuge cannot be exported - Israel exception: providing an exception for exports to Israel - Extending the US/Israel oil supply arrangement through 2014: currently the US/Israel memorandum is set to expire in 2004 - Wilderness: designating additional 1.5 million acres as wilderness in ANWR in exchange for opening approximately 1.5 million acres of the Coastal Plain of ANWR - Strict environmental protections: Imposes seasonal limitations to protect denning, migration, etc. Lessees must reclaim leased land to prior condition Requires use of “best commercially available technology” Requires use of ice roads, ice pads, ice airstrips for exploration Prohibits public use on all pipeline access and service roads Requires “no significant adverse affect” on fish & wildlife Requires consolidation of facility siting Secretary shall close certain special area of unique character and may close additional areas after consultation with local community.