Congress Requested to Form Energy Policy

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WASHINGTON - The nation's governors asked Congress Wednesday to forge a long-term energy policy including tax and price incentives for domestic resources development, even in restricted wilderness and offshore areas.

Gov. Steve Cowper, an Alaska Democrat, presented recommendations of the National Governors' Association after an 18-month study.

``The nation simply may not be able to afford to permanently remove prospectively valuable (oil and gas) areas off its shores, in vast areas of the West and in the Arctic,'' he said.

``It is my belief that we cannot afford to foreclose development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,'' even after the environmental furor over the damage caused by the Exxon Valdez tanker spill, Cowper said.

``Any development in currently restricted areas can and must comply with the strictest environmental safeguards, including standards for tanker safety,'' he added.

Cowper said the governors also recommended export of Alaskan oil on a barrel-for-barrel trade basis with other nations.

He said the current prohibition against such exports ``reflects the political situation at the time the Alaska pipeline legislation was passed, not the real workings of the oil markets or the economic realities of oil trade.''

``I am convinced that such trades would be economically beneficial, given the high transport cost of moving Alaskan oil to Gulf Coast refineries, where much of it goes today,'' Cowper told the House Banking subcommittee on economic stabilization. ``The nation would not lose oil supplies as the result of these transactions.''

Cowper was joined by representatives of the governors of Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, New York and Montana.

E.L. Bud Stewart Jr., energy advisor to Gov. Henry Bellmon, told the subcommittee that domestic oil production has declined over a 10-year period from 9 million barrels of oil per day to less than 8 million barrels per day.

Total proven reserves have suffered a similar decline, he said.

Active U.S. drilling rigs fell from more than 4,500 in 1982 to 737 on May 22 of this year, he said.

Stewart, who represents Bellmon on the energy and environment committee of the National Governor's Association, said the association believes a viable domestic energy supply industry must be maintained for the nation's energy security. …

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