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Mark Begich on Energy & Oil

Democratic Jr Senator


Advocate for opening up ANWR to drilling

Mark Begich did what almost no other Democrat in Washington would ever do: declaring his support for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

But this is Alaska, where Democrats are of a different stripe, Begich reminded those who haven’t seen many national-level Democrats from Alaska lately. “I think anyone who knows me knows I’m a different Democrat. I’m from Alaska. I’m a believer, a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, a supporter of drilling in ANWR. Alaskans are very liberal [in their belief that] government should not interfere in their personal life,“ he said.

Begich said he was confident he would be able to act as a powerful new advocate on Capitol Hill for opening up Alaska’s northernmost wildlife refuge to oil drilling. The idea has been blocked for years because of concerns it would threaten caribou, migrating birds, polar bears and other wildlife whose survival depends on the Arctic coastal plain and nearby waters.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Stevens-Begich” , Nov 20, 2008

Short term: $2.5B for LIHEAP; 70M bbl from strategic reserve

Begich said he sent letters to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, urging them to join in a bipartisan effort to tackle both short-term relief & long-term solutions in a national energy package to give help and hope to America’s working families. Begich said the skyrocketing cost of home heating fuel prices “is crippling many communities & stretching pocketbooks,” and hospitals, schools and businesses are making tough budget decisions to cover record electricity bills. In his letter, Begich asked Senate leaders to:
Source: 2008 Alaska Senate Debate reported in Fairbanks News-Miner , Sep 9, 2008

Long term: develop ANWR; build renewable energy plants

Congress must put aside partisan politics and implement a national energy package, Begich said in a letter to Senate leaders. In his letter, Begich wrote that American families need immediate bipartisan action from Congress and the president to bring short-term relief from high energy prices. As for long-term solutions, Begich urged Senate leaders to:
Source: 2008 Alaska Senate Debate reported in Fairbanks News-Miner , Sep 9, 2008

Support US participation in binding climate agreements

Q: Do you support caps on greenhouse gas emissions?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support U.S. participation in binding international climate agreements?

A: Yes.

Source: Citizens for Global Solutions: 2008 Senate questionnaire , Sep 9, 2008

Open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Mark will work across party lines to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development. He will fight for an Alaska Energy Policy that includes building an Alaska natural gas pipeline and also developing Alaska’s enormous renewable energy--hydro, tidal, geothermal and wind. With fellow mayors from Southcentral Alaska, Mark formed the Tri-Borough Commission which is spearheading a balanced Alaska energy policy emphasizing new development, conservation and renewable energy.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.begich.com, “Issues” , May 21, 2008

Alaska is ground zero for global warming

What I saw at Portage Glacier was, sadly, the rule & not the exception when it comes to the climate crisis in Alaska. Alaska is ground zero for global warming. I look around Alaska & see all the signs. Villages are literally being washed into the ocean. The polar ice cap is shrinking. Wildlife populations are being displaced and pests like the spruce bark beetle are destroying our forests. We have to do something. I’ve seen the value action at the municipal level has had in my city and around Alaska.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.begich.com, “Issues” , May 21, 2008

Voted NO on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.

Congressional Summary:To prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from promulgating any regulation concerning the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change. The Clean Air Act is amended by adding a section entitled, "No Regulation of Emissions of Greenhouse Gases". In this section, the term 'greenhouse gas' means any of the following:
  1. Water vapor
  2. Carbon dioxide
  3. Methane
  4. Nitrous oxide
  5. Sulfur hexafluoride
  6. Hydrofluorocarbons
  7. Perfluorocarbons
  8. Any other substance subject to, or proposed to be subject to regulation to address climate change.
The definition of the term 'air pollutant' does not include a greenhouse gas, except for purposes of addressing concerns other than climate change.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Sen. McConnell, R-KY]: The White House is trying to impose a backdoor national energy tax through the EPA. It is a strange way to respond to rising gas prices. But it is perfectly consistent with the current Energy Secretary's previously stated desire to get gas prices in the US up to where they are in Europe.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Sen. Lautenberg, D-NJ]:We hear the message that has been going around: Let's get rid of the EPA's ability to regulate. Who are they to tell us what businesses can do? Thank goodness that in this democratic society in which we live, there are rules and regulations to keep us as a civilized nation. The Supreme Court and scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency agreed that the Clean Air Act is a tool we must use to stop dangerous pollution. This amendment, it is very clear, favors one group--the business community. The Republican tea party politicians say: "Just ignore the Supreme Court. Ignore the scientists. We know better." They want to reward the polluters by crippling EPA's ability to enforce the Clean Air Act.
Status: Failed 50-50 (3/5

Reference: Energy Tax Prevention Act; Bill Am183 to S.49 ; vote number 11-SV054 on Apr 6, 2011

Voted YES on protecting middle-income taxpayers from a national energy tax.