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Lawmakers head to DC to push for ANWR drilling

Posted: February 12, 2012 - 9:13pm

JUNEAU — A major focus of the Legislature this week will be energy, with five state House members traveling Washington D.C. to urge opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and state Senators at home discussing oil taxes. 

A bill co-sponsored by Congressman Don Young, R-Alaska, that would allow drilling in the protected wildlife area, touted as a way to spur domestic energy production and create jobs, is pending in the U.S. House. 

Republican Reps. Anna Fairclough, Dan Saddler, Lance Pruitt and Mike Chenault and Democratic Rep. Reggie Joule, who caucuses with the House’s Republican-led majority, are adding their voices to those of Alaska’s congressional delegation and governor in seeking action. 

Two other Republican lawmakers, state Reps. Charisse Millett and Kyle Johansen, also recently made the trip.

Chenault, R-Nikiski, said the goal is to give members of Congress information “that will help them make a good decision based upon the wants and the concerns of Alaskans.” 

Saddler, R-Eagle River, said having freshman lawmakers, such as himself and Pruitt, making the case is important, too, because it shows the current generation of Alaskans support drilling.

“The long-term future of the state depends on the development of our resources,” Saddler said.

While they’re gone, hearings are expected to continue as the state Senate delves deeper into the oil tax issue. The Senate president has said his goal is to get a bill over to the House by mid-March, about a month before the session ends.

Other issues on the schedule include use of state dollars to make up for federal cuts to an immunization program and a proposal that would prevent minors from talking on cellphones while driving.

Committees in both the House and Senate will consider legislation to establish an immunization program that would buy and distribute recommended vaccines to children and adults who otherwise could not get them. According to an analysis by the state health department, the program would provide vaccine for an estimated 47,000 children and about 110,000 doses of vaccine to adults.

Federal funding for an Alaska immunization program has dropped from $4.3 million in fiscal year 2010 to $700,000 for next fiscal year, according to the analysis and a sponsor statement. Because of that, the program, as of January, stopped providing all adult vaccines and select childhood vaccines, the analysis states.

The bill would substitute state funding for the decrease in federal funding through fiscal year 2015. 

Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, and one of the sponsors of SB144, said the bill is intended as a short-term measure to ensure availability of vaccines until a more permanent solution is found. The governor has already proposed $700,000 for the program, matching the federal level. That means $2.9 million in additional state funding would be needed to restore the program to 2009 levels.

Giessel said she hopes there won’t be a problem in getting the bill passed: “I think people realize how important it is,” she said.

Rep. Bob Herron is the primary sponsor of the House version of the bill.

Also, the House Transportation Committee is scheduled to hear HB128, which would prohibit minors from talking on cellphones while driving. 

Last year, a bill that would have restricted cellphone use for all drivers was spiked. But Rep. Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage, said she has renewed optimism for her bill’s chances in part because it’s narrower.

She said the measure would apply only to drivers younger than 18 and would make talking-while-driving a secondary offense. That means police could not stop a car just because the driver was on the phone. She said she didn’t want people “pulled over for suspicion of being 16, or whatever.”

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Jerry 02/14/12 - 02:21 pm
It seems to me that we

It seems to me that we Alaskans are wasting time & money by asking the Govt. to allow us to drill in Anwr, OUR LAND.
In reality all we Alaskans need to do is uncap the THOUSANDS of wells already drilled & start the flow of oil & gas which has already been found.
The problem is that Big oil is in bed with the Federal govt. and possibly even Alaska govt. and they are playing this cat & mouse game pretending they actually care about a supposed lack of oil & gas.

I say just uncap those wells & let-r-flow, and if the oil companies & Fed. govt. don't want us to do so, who cares? Its OUR OIL, as in ALASKANS, not theirs.
So i guess i am saying stop with all the B.S. & pretending that we need to get permission to drill more wells in ANWR, when we have enough oil & gas to last hundreds of years from the wells already drilled.

Its a control of the masses by govts. and money and nothing more, and food is next, in fact food has already started being controled.

BigRedDog 02/15/12 - 11:15 am
Doing something about it

Our best representatives are standing up to put the ball publicly back in play. Other balls to put into play include the Feds recent budget plans that include money from Chukchi lease sales into future gov. finances. So we can plan drilling in an even more perilous and delicate environment than exists onshore in ANWR without delay?
Meanwhile we watch everyone moving to North Dakota. Even that discovery isn't without Federal delays that should have been handle before hand. Maybe if certain folks weren't so worried about loosing the Green Vote before an election, that type of needful pipeline could proceed. Being to busy to keep an eye on the ball and using power of office to make up for ineffective leadership catches up to you sooner or later. As the massive groundwork being done to start ND pipeline was no great secret, why cause such a public spectacle stopping the project and only adding to cost and delaying completion!
You want to lead? Well get after it and show this great American work force what needs done. Seems there is no clear idea what needs done, just a need to control it. You might find the spirit of the American workhorse is one you could trust. When you don't really know which way to go try giving the horse it's head and letting it show you the way!
The next primary concern of our Legislators should be to stop the Ethanol train. Yes it's time to lay down in front of the trainloads of corn if we have too and stop the wastefulness. We are borrowing money from China to give to the Giant corps. that control ethanol production, bye government mandate. So we can meet some pie in the sky Green Wish to grow our fuel. How we have let that disrupt our food chain is catching up to America. Corn isn't an economical alternative to fossil fuel and we don't have to totally crush the small farmer to prove it. True leadership would not be blind to the greater cost of using corn for fuel. Our small farm economy has been devastated bye this disruption and it's time our leaders pay some attention to whats happening. If you have been unaware of these effects on our economy, enlighten yourself a little. Open your eyes and keep your head out of dark places!

kksalm 02/16/12 - 10:28 am
What's the hurry?

Why do we need to drill in ANWR now? What about our children and their children. Let's look at ANWR as a safe deposit box. In the future that oil will be worth more. Most likely new technologies will make oil even more valuable. A hundred years from now this era will be looked back upon in disbelief. "What were they thinking?" Well what are we thinking? Why now, why ANWR?
If the middle east, Canada, Venezuela and elsewhere want to sell us theirs just buy it already. Leave ours for the next generation.

BigRedDog 02/16/12 - 10:46 am
Methanol Pipeline to China

The only pipeline I don't see any interference with is the one sending our hard earned money to China. With China currently buying most of our debt, we are still paying public funds to produce methanol; we are paying corn subsidies with borrowed money. Tell me that isn't why the Chinese VP is visiting our mid western states, maybe asking them to turn the tap up a bit! And if the production of green fuel isn't cost effective heck we can always lean on the American taxpayers! Any industry that doesn't carry it's weight, just subsidize it seems to be the new wave. The trouble with this new wave is the same old wave of debt that follows.
Debt is one thing and the disruption of our farm economy is quite another. The combination of the two has released a perfect storm of the small farmers across America. It is hard to afford anything on your property that you feed corn. The increase of farmland used in producing corn has reduced acreage formally used for oats, barley. Thus raising the price of alternative feed sources putting a double squeeze on farmers. If this wasn't the plan, then it's time to demand that responsible leadership recognize this problem.
There seems to be a little confusion and conflict created bye these current policies. We cannot economically achieve the goal of green fuel bye the production of methanol with corn. Green fuel should not mean shoveling our greenbacks into the pockets of the Chinese to meet our federal decree. Further undermining our treasury to give money we cannot afford for a product that destroys our farm economy is not prudent. We need to address this issue before we waste another growing season. Now is the time to offer up alternative bio fuel sources, even saw grass is more economical than corn!

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