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Alaska governor blasts limits on drilling

Feb. 28, 2011 at 3:53 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell is accusing the Obama administration of hobbling the U.S. economy by stifling domestic oil production.

Addressing the National Press Club Sunday while in Washington for a governors' meeting, Parnell said the administration is "openly hostile" to oil states and denounced delays in letting Shell drill exploratory wells off Alaska's Arctic coast.

"If it looks like a moratorium and walks like a moratorium ... maybe it is," said the Republican governor.

Parnell said the failure to exploit Alaska's oil reserves during unrest in the Middle East would raise gasoline prices, McClatchy Newspapers reported.

"The U.S. foolishly imports more than 63 percent of our oil. That leaves us vulnerable to the economic shock of disruption of these oil supplies and it drives down that economic recovery," he said.

Asked how faster drilling approvals could be reconciled with protecting resources, Parnell said Alaskans are "intimately familiar with messes created when oil is not developed and shipped responsibly," referring to the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

"The Department of Interior and the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] appear to be driving U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa," Parnell said. "The State Department is forced into a reactive, mitigating role."

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