FAIRBANKS, Alaska - THE ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, OR ANWR, DEBATE CONTINUES IN WASHINGTON.
A SENATE COMMITTEE HELD A HEARING THURSDAY TO EXAMINE BOTH SIDES OF THE DEBATE OVER DRILLING IN the refuge.
ALASKA SENATOR LISA MURKOWSKI IS AN AVID SUPPORTER OF ENERGY EXPLORATION IN ANWR, BUT SOME WITNESSES SHE QUESTIONED WANT THE LAND LEFT ALONE.
OUR WASHINGTON BUREAU'S PETER ZAMPA HAS MORE IN THIS REPORT.
A witness on a mission to protect Alaska lands. Pat Pourchot was called before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to testify on the prospect of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. His message to the Committee: stay out.
Pat Pourchot; Former Alaska Affairs>>"The Coastal Plain there one of the most productive areas of the refuge, is the last piece of America's Arctic Coastal Plain that is not open for oil and gas development."
A former Department of Interior official, Pourchot says development in the region would impact wildlife like the porcupine caribou herd. The herd is a major food source for the Native Gwich'in tribe.
Pat Pourchot; Former Alaska Affairs>>"This is part of our natural heritage that should be protected and preserved for our future generations."
Peter Zampa; Reporting>>"Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski called for the hearing...she says drilling in this portion of ANWR can be done safely and generate the revenue that Congress called for in its budget proposal."
Sen. Lisa Murkowski; (R) Alaska>>"We've got an extraordinary resource, we know how we can access it responsibly, and now what we need is the permission to move forward."
Murkowski's Committee has to create legislation to authorize drilling. She invited witnesses who testified that wildlife would not be harmed. One witness said it would be a huge economic benefit for his tribe. Governor Bill Walker also came to Capitol Hill, saying people in places like Kaktovik *want this development.
Governor Bill Walker; (I) Alaska>>"They came to me, one-on-one, and said when will this happen? When will this happen? And so I think that's a strong message."
The Committee has until November 13 to pass authorization legislation. In Washington, I'm Peter Zampa.