Alaska about more than oil, secretary says

June 1, 2012 at 7:43 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, June 1 (UPI) -- The energy potential in Alaska extends beyond conventional oil and natural gas reserves, the U.S. deputy secretary of the interior said.

U.S. Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes met with federal and state officials in Anchorage to discuss energy permitting processes in Alaska.

Hayes said Alaska's onshore and offshore energy resources hold "great promise" for a sustainable energy future. That future extends beyond conventional energy to renewable energy forms, he added.

"With a number of successful wind energy projects underway across the state, from Kodiak to Kotzebue, the time is ripe to apply lessons learned and support similar projects in isolated but renewable energy-rich villages in Alaska," he said in a statement.

Access to affordable energy is problematic in rural parts of Alaska. Hayes said much of that problem could be alleviated by embracing renewable energy forms like wind energy.

A U.S. court in Alaska this week placed limits on where Greenpeace could stage protests against plans by energy company Shell to drill for oil in arctic reserves. Environmental advocates have expressed concerns about the potential for damage to arctic ecosystems during planned drilling operations.

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