Alaska energy plans spark debate

Aug. 14, 2012 at 9:07 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Conservationists in the United States said energy plans for Alaska show balance, while an industry trade group said it was the wrong economic decision.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans for new drilling in about half of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. The plan would open 11.8 million acres for leasing, providing access to the estimated 549 million barrels of oil and 8.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the region.

Salazar, during a news conference, said the plan strikes balance between oil and gas development needs and environmental protection.

"To harness the oil and gas potential of the NPR-A, we need a plan that will help the industry bring energy safely to market from this remote location, while also protecting wildlife and subsistence rights of Alaska Natives," he said.

National Audubon Society President David Yarnold welcomed Salazar's plans as a "great victory for birds, wildlife and common sense."

Erik Milito, upstream director for the American Petroleum Institute, was quoted by The Washington Post as saying Salazar's plan "continues to leave domestic energy resources, jobs and government revenue off the table."

NPR-A was established in 1923 to ensure the U.S. military had enough energy as it moved from coal-fired power.

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