U.S. oil, gas debate shifts north

June 11, 2013 at 7:21 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, June 11 (UPI) -- U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is called on to enact measures that would prohibit oil and gas exploration in an arctic reserve, U.S. House leaders said.

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell in May introduced a 162-page proposal outlining plans for oil and natural gas development in his state.

His report states oil and gas exploration within Alaska's borders is off limits "despite repeated efforts" to access the so-called 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

"The oil and gas resource potential of the ANWR 1002 Area is estimated to be in the billions of barrels of recoverable oil," the report states.

Last week, Jewell told Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, a "balanced plan" for Alaska would advance energy security goals while at the same time allaying concerns about energy exploration in northern climates.

Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass, ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, and Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., called on Jewell to "protect the biological heart of the refuge from oil and gas exploration and drilling."

Markey and Fitzpatrick said Monday they proposed legislation that would designate parts of ANWR as wilderness reserve.

"The Interior Department issuing a management plan for the refuge that recommends a wilderness designation will help ensure that we protect this special place for future generations," Markey said in a statement.

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