Friday, March 12, 2010

Obama to back Alaska's effort to build gas line from North Slope

JUNEAU, Alaska - President Barack Obama plans to boost the effort to develop Alaska's natural gas resources into the executive office of the White House, according to Alaska legislators who visited Washington to discuss energy issues with other legislators.
Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, has nominated legislative aide Larry Persily for the Obama appointment as federal coordinator for Alaska development. Persily has support from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, as well.
He is now awaiting confirmation by the Senate, after having been approved by the Senate Energy Committee.
Senate Majority Leader Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage, said a top Obama administration official, former Alaskan Pete Rouse, told Alaska legislators in Washington that Obama would be more than just verbally supporting the Alaska natural gas pipeline.
"Mr. Rouse said the president was planning to elevate the Alaska gas line coordinator's office effort into the executive office of the president once Mr. Persily is in place and is official," he said.
After returning from Washington, Ellis told colleagues on the Senate floor on March 8 that Persily was likely to win confirmation and be well-placed to give Alaska's views on the gas pipeline.
Rep. Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage, said the message she and others received from the Energy Council meetings was that Obama would raise the coordinator's profile.
"They want to boost his position, get him access to an executive committee on energy issues," she said.

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